Today on our blog, we welcome some of the ensemblists from the new production of King Kong to Broadway and learn about their journeys to the Great White Way.
Ashley Andrews (Dance Captain)
Hometown: Shrewsbury, Shropshire - UK
"I was walking through Covent Garden with a friend who I was working with at the time. We were in between shows on An American in Paris on the West End, where I played Mr Z. My agent called me and said “OK, so an offer has come in.” I replied, “What offer?” as I hadn’t auditioned for anything recently. They then went on to say how it would be dance captain, starting in July with some pre-pro dates. I still didn’t know what offer. I finally stopped my agent and said 'Sorry, what job is this?' She replied 'King Kong, Broadway!'
"I’m not quite sure what happened in the next five minutes to follow... I hadn’t auditioned for the show and I had no idea at all that an offer was coming my way. I was totally and utterly overwhelmed, excited, surprised, nervous, happy and I’m pretty sure I screamed and said a lot of swear words! Sorry, mum!
"I think the thing I am most looking forward to working on Broadway, which still feels like a complete dream and at any moment I am going to wake up from, is the feeling of a new adventure both professionally and personally.
"This next adventure gives me a sense of a new start, a new lease of life and new determination. Being in a place where no one knows me yet allows me to set my own bar. I can push myself creatively. I’m totally open to everything that Broadway has to teach me and I can’t wait to learn."
Rhaamell Burke-Missouri (Ensemble)
Hometown: Far Rockaway, Queens
"I was actually on my way home after another audition when I got the call. I was walking from the station and completely broke down and cried on the street. It was a bad day, so hearing that not only made my day better but it brought my spirit up too.
"Honestly, I’m excited for it all. I have dreamt of this moment for years and now that it’s here, I don’t want to miss any part of it. This cast is so diverse when it comes to what we can do so there is not other option but to learn from everyone."
Leroy Church (Ensemble)
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
"The way I found out I booked King Kong was really interesting. I auditioned in June of 2017. It was at my birthday party when my agent called to let me know I was on “hold.” I had no idea what this “hold” meant. Fast forward to October...still no word. I saw there were EPAs for King Kong. I went to the call and sang.
"After I finished, I was in the lobby getting myself together to leave and casting came out to talk with me. “Why are you here, you didn’t talk to your agent?” My agent had called me two days before to let me know that I had booked. I missed that call. When I called back, I spoke to a different agent about another gig. Lol.
"I'm most excited to share this amazing story of 'being the other,' an idea that resonates so deeply within me, through Drew McOnie’s genius lens, is what I look to most about my experience on Broadway... and performing on the Tonys wouldn’t hurt."
Khadija Griffith (Ensemble)
Hometown: Berlin, Germany
I had found out while I was on a first date! That was a little over a year ago and both the job and the relationship have grown into something beautiful. What I am looking forward to most about my experience on Broadway is getting to share what we’re working so hard on with the people that have helped me get here."
Gabe Hyman (Ensemble)
Hometown: Chesapeake, VA
"I found out that I had booked the part over the phone while on my way to my third audition that week. I was actually running late and sprinting toward the train station when I received the call and stopped to catch my breath thinking it was my part-time job calling me into work that evening.
"It was actually Tara Rubin Casting telling me that I should be expecting an offer soon for the role. I could not believe what I just heard. I stood in front of the subway entrance frozen and shaking with my phone in my hand pressed against my face for about five minutes in disbelief, blocking passengers from entering the station. I got off the phone and realized that I was going to be making my Broadway debut the following fall! What in the world?! It was certainly a moment that I will never forget.
"I am looking forward to being able to tell this newly reinvented, inspiring and timeless story eight times a week on Broadway! Ahh! I am also excited and honored to share the stage with some of the most diverse, talented and all around incredible human beings and artists that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with."
Roberto Olvera (Ensemble)
Hometown: Chicago, IL
"I found after my audition via email... I knew I nailed that audition. This was my first audition in years. I had been waiting for this show for five years when I first heard about.
"I'm looking forward to bringing Kong to life for the Broadway world to see! He will leave you speechless!"
David Yijae (Ensemble)
Hometown: Staten Island, NY
“The crazy thing is two months prior to King Kong auditions, I was on tour with The Illusionists and had told people in my cast I didn't want to be on tour anymore and be on a show, whether it be on Broadway or Off, but at home.
“When I finished my tour about two weeks later my agent got me an audition for King Kong. It was a few days of auditioning and stressful as any other, but for once I felt good about how my auditions went. Then over the weekend I found out i had booked through my agent! She called and kept saying “David.. David..” and I kept saying, “Yes? Yes?” And then she told me I booked...
“I spoke it into existence! It really was a surreal moment. The excitement is crazy and I'm still in shock that I'm going to be on Broadway! It really is a dream come true!
“I'm looking forward to being able to spread the love of what I do. I can't wait to see everyone's faces light up."