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The Ensemblist is an inside look at the experience of being a Broadway performer- from the first rehearsal through performing eight shows a week and beyond. Whether you’re an experienced theatre professional or a passionate fan, The Ensemblist will give you the opportunity to get to know new performers and the great work they do onstage, while also shedding light on some of the hidden innerworkings of the Broadway experience. Created and hosted by Mo Brady (The Addams Family, SMASH) and Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Chicago, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), The Ensemblist is the only podcast that shows you Broadway from the inside out. 

Blog

Both Sides of the Casting Table

Mo Brady

by Lance Wiener

Spencer Liff

Spencer Liff

Success is something that we all yearn for. Whether it be financially or a working opportunity, being successful is an important milestone in everyone’s lives. It’s something that choreographer Spencer Liff can say. He is the definition of successful. With multiple productions (Falsettos, Head Over Heels, Big, Spring Awakening) and films under his belt, and with a small award called an Emmy, he exhibits what true success is like. What he strives to do, however, is to help auditionees in the casting room be the very best that they can be.

Liff started out in small ensemble roles in the musical Big, yet he wanted more out of his Broadway career. When the opportunity to be choreographer for Head Over Heels came about, Liff knew what we wanted out of the choreography for the musical. Working with the creative team, which consisted of people such as the music director and many important people, they would collaborate on how to bring the queer-strong story to life on the Broadway stage.

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During the audition process, Liff describes the tremendous talent of more than 600 people in the room, and then slowly cutting down to a mere eight for the Broadway cast. A story he recalls is one that ensues hilarity. Ensemble member Amber Ardolino would never be able to come in to audition when asked. However, when fellow ensemble member Samantha Pollino taught her the choreography, Ardolino was able to send in a video submission and eventually was offered the job.

Liff goes into detail about how casting directors and the creative team may look for certain qualities for ensemble members, which varies by show. “Confidence” is a trait that draws Liff’s attention, and no doubt is something that almost every creative will look for in that moment. Being able to be confident and trustworthy will go a long way, and that audition will go ever so smoothly. On looks, Liff says to always look good. Wear show shoes. If you portray a vibe that the productions you are auditioning for has, then that is a bonus during an audition. Knowing what the creatives may be looking for is extremely beneficial to landing that dream job.

Being able to be at the casting table has shown Liff what it’s like to look for Broadway’s next ensemble member or lead role.