by Angela Tricarico
Morgan Marcell has made an name for herself as an Ensemblist on the Main Stem, appearing as a swing and dance captain in the original company of Hamilton and as an original company member of Bandstand. Through these credits, she’s developed a working relationship with choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, who she first encountered as a dance captain on the In The Heights national tour.
Marcell was gearing up for the world premiere of Moulin Rouge! in the Fall of 2017, but she was also looking for some opportunities to get more experience choreographing for film.
“I have always kind of seen things in frames,” Marcell said, elaborating on her experience on the other side of the lens. “Those who are close to me know I always have a camera with me.” Marcell has directorial experience with a short film about The Eliza Project, which she founded during her time in Hamilton.
She sent a email to Blankenbuehler saying, “I’m trying to get my eye more into directing, and I know your vocabulary so well. I think it would be easy for me to assist you, and you would gain from it as well.”
Blankenbuehler wrote back about a project he couldn’t yet talk about, but said that he’d “love to have [Marcell] assist [him],” especially because other big names attached the project were the rest of Hamilton’s creative team - Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tommy Kail, and Alex Lacamoire.
“He said it was an eight-part miniseries, and then he said it was about Fosse,” Marcell explained. “I basically died and went to heaven. This is more than I asked for. I was thinking a commercial, but great!”
As an assistant choreographer, Marcell worked on the first three episodes of the series. She never professionally danced Fosse before, but says she was familiar with the style prior to her work on Fosse/Verdon. During pre-production, a lot of Marcell’s focus was on overseeing the training of the series’ stars Sam Rockwell (Bob Fosse) and Michelle Williams (Gwen Verdon) and scheduling the rehearsal times around filming, once that began in October 2018.
Marcell also appeared as a dancer in episodes one, six and seven of Fosse/Verdon. She describes the shooting experience as “straightforward” and a shorter process than that of her last on-camera role in the ensemble of Rent Live.
“It was like you’re going back in time,” Marcell said about recreating classic musical theater numbers for Fosse/Verdon. “We were inhabiting characters set in the 70’s. That was really cool.”