by Ahmad Simmons
Today was a big day for the Broadway cast of Carousel. We had our pre-record for the vocals and our spacing on the Radio City stage. There were so many little things to record that I hadn’t even thought about. We started by laying down the vocal tracks that just included a few choruses and then the ending. Totally straightforward and easy. Then we moved onto to the sounds of the actual movement. This was a bit more challenging. Justin Peck’s choreography for the number uses a lot of heavy footwork and stomping to accentuate the grit and masculinity of the piece while still maintaining a sense of style and finesse. All of which had to be perfectly reflected in the recording so that it matched what you’ll see on the stage. You’ll have to let us know how we did!
And now the most INCREDIBLE part of my day. Camera blocking rehearsal. Oh my goodness. Nothing really could’ve prepared me for the overwhelming amount of joy, pride, and gratitude I felt walking into the Radio City theater (once I got past the security screening..). First thing I see is a sea of people, cameras, lights, and tech tables. I got there just in time to watch some friends nailing it up onstage in My Fair Lady. Justin Peck came and greeted us all in his usual casual and sincere way. Our stage managers and wardrobe folks were right there at the ready with “the boots." All I could think about was the little brown boy in Fort Worth, Texas trying to dance like Bob Fosse and sing like every church lady on the original The Color Purple cast album. This is it! What I’ve waited for since... well birth. I stood there for a while looking out at the massive amount of seats - some already assigned to celebrity presenters and Broadway legends by photo cards. You better believe I took pictures sitting next to Patti LuPone.
Reality sets in and I have to snap my mind out of awe and into work mode. The guys and I gathered onstage to start our spacing. We had tons more depth so we made a few adjustments to really let the stage breath and then started the camera runs. Between each take we’d all try and run backstage to see a bit of playback. Each time we watched it was like a bunch a jocks/schoolgirls rooting for each other and grinning about our little standout moments. After MANY runs, our time was up. I wanted to pull an Effie White and sing “And I Am Telling You” but they run a tight ship so there was no time for games.
To be completely honest, I’m freaking out! The anticipation of this Tony performance is killing me! The amount of times I’ve watched past performances online imagining what it must feel like is absurd. Growing up in a performing arts school in Fort Worth, Texas, we had our own little hometown version of the Tonys called the Betty Buckley Awards. I would get the exact same feeling as I have now! I’m so proud of Carousel and what we get to do every night. I’m beyond excited to be making my Tony Awards debut performing choreography that I believe will be considered a landmark in theater history. We’ll be performing a condensed version of “Blow High, Blow Low” - an all male, dance your boots off number that we’ve condensed from an eight-minute extravaganza to a power-packed, super full stage three-minute showstopper.