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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. 

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Q&As

Connect with each of our guests as they tackle The Ensemblist's Q&A!

Q&A: Jessica Lea Patty

Jackson Cline

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Jessica's Episodes: Season 3 Rehearsal Reports- Bandstand

Where are you from? Jupiter, Florida

Broadway credits: The Boy From Oz, A Chorus Line (2006 Revival), 9 to 5, The Addams Family, The People in the Picture, Evita (2012 Revival), Bandstand

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? My dad was in town, so he actually came to the audition with me. Since it was for a replacement, the decision was being made very quickly. I didn’t have an agent at the time, so Dave Clemmons, casting director for Oz, called me personally about 2 hours after the audition when my dad and I were walking into the Empire State Building. We didn't end up going to the top. :-)

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? There are so many! It would have to be between Broadway Barks & Gypsy of the Year.

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? The commitment of everyone involved, across every department, to make a show happen 8 times a week.  Onstage cast, offstage cast, stage management, backstage crew, front of house crew, sound crew. It takes a village for Broadway to happen on the daily, it takes an incredibly committed village that collaborates together. Everyone loves what they do so much that they will push through sickness, injury, taking vacations, not attending life events like weddings and graduations because of their commitment to the industry & their craft. That can’t be said about many professions. “The show must go on” is not just a silly adage. It is a badge of honor that most in the industry wear proudly.  

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? The current political climate of this country has really affected & inspired me. I’ve realized just how little I was using my voice to support & stand up for what I believe in. Recent events have inspired me to become an activist & advocate for humanity. We must uphold our integrity as a community & a country, so I’ve been inspired to do just that. 

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be… torn between Barack Obama or Betty White.

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose… Jack Hanna. :-) I LOVE ALL ANIMALS.

To be successful in this business, it takes… not caring what others think of you, being fearless, LOTS of hard work & absolutely loving what you do. The first two are always a work in progress.

Tell us a secret. I crave chips, french fries & pasta. I guess that’s not really a secret. But if I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore. ;-P

Q&A: Bre Jackson

Jackson Cline

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Bre's Episodes: Theater Neighbors (#89), Opening Night (#92) & Awards Season (#95)

Where are you from? Detroit, MI

Broadway credits: The Book of Mormon, The Color Purple (2015 Broadway Revival)

How did you hear you'd booked your first Broadway show? I was just leaving a Membership meeting in the Equity Bldg and saw I had missed a call from my agents. I called them back and was told to stay by the phone, because the secretary needed to make sure he hadn't left for the weekend. He called me back immediately and proceeded to tell me that Book of Mormon wanted me for Broadway. I screamed and started crying in the Equity lobby. I proceed to fall to my knees, and my friend with me waved security off whispering, "She's not crazy. She just booked Broadway."

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? I think I love the Easter Bonnet most of all of the events I've been to. But there are so many more I need to get to.

What's something about Broadway that fascinates you? The unsung heroes of Broadway, the stagehands and members of Local One.

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? Chopped. I love cooking, and while I have a little time off, I've been itching to try some new recipes and cooking methods.

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be... Barack or Michelle Obama.

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose... no one honestly. But I would love to be a spoiled house cat for a day.

To be successful in this business, it takes... knowledge and a damn good steamer.

Tell us a secret. There is no formula to success in this business.

Q&A: Dennis Stowe

Jackson Cline

bway-dennis-stowe2.jpg

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Dennis' Episode: 2016 Listener Questions (#87)

Where are you from? I'm from Amityville, NY on Long Island, about an hour east of NYC.

Broadway credits: Aladdin (currently), Annie, Leap of Faith, Shrek the Musical, The Apple Tree, The Wedding Singer, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Wonderful Town and Man of La Mancha

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? I was on tour with West Side Story when I got the call that I had booked Man of La Mancha. I lied and told them my mother was getting an operation so I could fly to NYC for a callback and got the call a couple of days after returning to tour.

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? I love Broadway Bares and the Tony Awards of course!

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? I love the community of Broadway....as much as we are in competition, we are still a tight-knit group and mostly supportive of each other. It feels like a very exclusive club.

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? Because of recent political events, I am inspired to become more active politically.

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be... Barack Obama... I wanna know what he's REALLY thinking!

To be successful in this business, it takes..talent, perseverance, and luck.... and you probably only need two out of the three... Also, I think you have to learn how to embrace your authentic self and try not to judge your path by comparing yourself to someone else.

Tell us a secret. I don't have many secrets, what you see is what you get.... although I do have a slight obsession with pizza... lol.

 

Q&A: Anika Chapin

Jackson Cline

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Anika's Episode: Dramaturgy (#86)

Where are you from? New York, NY. Born and raised, baby.

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? The Tonys. Although I always have my frustrations with some of the choices/snubs, you can't beat a night where everyone comes together to celebrate this industry and art form. Also, DRESSES. 

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? I love the rituals and traditions in it. I majored in cultural anthropology in college, and I realized that Broadway was as much a subculture as anything I was studying. If I said there was a ritual where before the big ceremony, a robe was passed from the last initiate group to a chosen member of the next one, and that person had to touch every member of the group for good luck, then decorate the robe to mark their ceremony and initiation before passing it along, you'd think I was talking about a tribe somewhere. And I am, but it's the Gypsy Robe and it's us.

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? I fell down a deep, dark rabbit hole of obsession with Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, which is an Australian mystery series about a fabulous lady detective in the 1920s who is smart and independent and solves mysteries and wears amazing outfits and sleeps with attractive men. I got hooked on the TV series (which I watched all of), then I went back and read the books (which I read all of). I just finished the last one and I miss her in my life - and I admit that sometimes when I'm having a rough day I'll think, "How would Miss Fisher handle this?" I should really have a WWMFD bracelet made (but it would have to be made of silk and ostrich feathers, obviously. With emeralds.).

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be... In my mind, Cate Blanchett and I are already besties. So getting coffee with her would really just be correcting the universal error that we don't actually know each other.

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose... Renee Fleming. I can't sing at all, and I want to know what it's like to open your mouth and have that voice come out. 

To be successful in this business, it takes... a sense of humor and great powers of observation.

Tell us a secret. When I was little, I would act out scenes from my favorite shows for my parents. It was a very successful series until I roped my sister and best friend into doing a blistering rendition of "The Heat is On in Saigon," complete with "thong" wedgies. 

Q&A: Neil Haskell

Jackson Cline

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Neil's Episode: Hamilton (#85)

Where are you from? Clarence Center, NY (Buffalo)

Broadway credits: The Times They Are A-Changin', 9 to 5, Bring It On, Cinderella, Tuck Everlasting, Hamilton

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? A phone call from Binder's office. They ask, "Hey, can you be in NY tomorrow for rehearsal?" I responded, "Can I call you back? I need to talk to my parents first." It was 5 days before I was heading back to Point Park University for my sophomore year. 2 days later, I flew to NY for a costume fitting and my first rehearsal.

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? A tie between Broadway Bowling and the Broadway Softball League.

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? The magic of a super quick onstage costume change.

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? My nephew

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be... Probably Seth Rogen. We could discuss my role in his next film...

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose... LeBron James.

To be successful in this business, it takes... Stamina. Hard work. Courage. People Skills.

Tell us a secret. I've logged many miles on the treadmill listening to the Ghost cast album.

 

Q&A: Pearl Sun

Jackson Cline

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Pearl's Episode: Next to Normal (#84)

Where are you from? Los Angeles, CA

Broadway credits: If/Then, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? I was playing Irene Molloy in a production of Hello, Dolly! at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY at the time. I was in my hotel room, and my agent and friend, Jed Abrahams, told me to sit down and broke the news. I couldn't believe it! It felt like such a huge hurdle to pass, and I was so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the community.

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? Broadway in Bryant Park is my favorite event in the Broadway community for many reasons. It allows people to enjoy musical numbers from current shows while sitting in one of the best parks, it rings in the summer season, which completely opens up New York City and everything it has to offer, and it's a great time for the community to come together and bring their art to the masses.

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? I found last season to be extremely diverse, but as progressive as last season was, I am fascinated that we have such a long way to go. 

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? I am in the home stretch of my pregnancy, so I have been extremely inspired by what it means to expand one's family while juggling the schedule of an artist. I have seen many of my friends handle parenthood with such grace, compassion, and unconditional love that it truly inspires me to be the best parent I can be.

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be... Oprah! She's the closest I can get to Maya Angelou. 

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose... Michelle Obama, because she's extraordinary and so beloved!

To be successful in this business, it takes... Passion, determination, a strong work ethic, and a good reputation.

Tell us a secret. Hmmmm... That's pretty tough. If anyone knows me, they know that I'm an extremely straightforward person. What you see is what you get! Ask me something! 

 

Q&A: Cleve Asbury

Jackson Cline

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Cleve's Episode: How to Succeed... (#80)

Where are you from? Houston, Texas

Broadway credits: PETER PAN, WEST SIDE STORY, BRING BACK BIRDIE, COPPERFIELD, HARRIGAN ’N HART, ME AND MY GIRL, JEROME ROBBINS’  BROADWAY, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, WONDERFUL TOWN, CHITA RIVERA: THE DANCER’S LIFE, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? I had gotten into PETER PAN starring Sandy Duncan, which at the time was going to be a summer stock tour. But when the show was mounted at the Dallas Summer Musicals, the producers basically decided to forego the rest of the tour and bring the production straight to Broadway. All of a sudden I had booked my first Broadway show!

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? The Easter Bonnet Competition!

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? Why great shows can still fail at the box office

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? The gymnasts at the Olympics. Wow.

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be… Kevin Hart, because I would be laughing from beginning to end.

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose… George Clooney. What’s it like to be him?

To be successful in this business, it takes… Persistent positive attitude.

Tell us a secret. I saw Laurence Fishburne naked.

Q&A: Kelsey Ryan Moore

Jackson Cline

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Kelsey's Episode: Fiorello! (#79)

Where are you from? Stuart, FL 

Broadway credits: N/A at the moment…

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? I will have a great answer for this when it happens! :)

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? I love the positive, radiant, infectious energy of the community, and it all comes from the people. I have met some of the greatest humans I know because of theatre and there is just something about our industry that draws these miraculous people. 

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? I am fascinated by all the moving parts that have to align in order for the audience to experience a show every night. From the creation of the material, to casting, to rehearsals and lastly to tech/performances, there is so much that goes into mounting a show. It’s truly a collaborative art form, and it truly fascinates me.

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? Believe it or not, I am inspired by those that I have met in the hospitality industry here in the city. I have met some of the most hardworking, good-natured people, and they are even actors themselves in their own way each night throughout service. I’ve learned how to start a conversation with anyone, because there is always some common ground, even if it’s just the weather. There is also so much to learn about food/wine, and I am always eager to learn new things.

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be… Bernadette Peters. I had an assignment for class recently where we got to work on dream role material, and I rediscovered the brilliance of Sunday In The Park With George, and then I realized that I have always been so drawn to Bernadette!! I have this distinct memory of first discovering the song “Not A Day Goes By” and watching her performance over and over. I was stunned by the beauty of her raw emotion. It’s unlike anything else, and it’s so captivating. She’s right on the edge, but keeps it together just enough to get through. So compelling. Unreal.

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose… Any of the ensemble dancers in Hamilton. I was lucky enough to win the lotto at The Public, and I honestly had no idea what I was in for, but every second they were on stage, I was completely floored. I get really excited watching people dance, because I admire it so and think it would be so fun to be able to move like that. 

To be successful in this business, it takes… a few boyfriends aka a solid group of close friends that love you unconditionally, that know “let’s get lunch” means we’re going to Room Service, that tell you the things you don’t always want to hear and that are your amazing support system. New York is freaking tough, and I can’t imagine it without my boyfriends.

Tell us a secret. Ooh…I’m developing a bad champagne habit…and it’s really unpractical.

Q&A: Catherine Ricafort

Jackson Cline

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Catherine's Episodes: Containing Multitudes Part 4 (#78) & A Chorus Line (#81)

Where are you from? Thousand Oaks, CA

Broadway credits: Honeymoon In Vegas (Mahi), Holiday Inn, Disaster, Allegiance, Cinderella, Mamma Mia!

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? I was home in California for Christmas, feeling rather down as I had been unemployed for a few months and wasn't sure whether to go back to NYC to continue auditioning. I had spent most of my holiday break sending messages to Craigslist postings about sublets in Astoria, so when I saw I had a voicemail from an unknown number I assumed it was from a possible sublet. It turned out to be my agent, calling from her cell phone on a weekend (which she never does), telling me simply to call her back, so I knew it had to be something urgent. I called her back - and she told me that I was getting an offer to be in Mamma Mia! on BROADWAY. It was the morning of New Year's Eve, I was still in my pajamas and hadn't even put on my contacts or anything, and the holiday decorations were still up in the house, so it really felt like the most amazing Christmas present ever. I was shocked (I had auditioned many months prior for the tour, so had no idea this was even in the cards), and I started screaming. My mom ran over to me in a panic, as she couldn't hear the other end of the line and she almost tried to shake the phone out my hand so she could hear, she was so excited. :) I moved to NY 3 days later to kick off the new year with rehearsals.

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? Broadway in Bryant Park! It is wonderful to bring Broadway performances for free to the public and fun to see friends in other shows perform numbers in a casual setting.

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? Despite the fact that it is an extremely competitive business, I'm always touched by how incredibly supportive actors are of each other. I've seen girls in line for auditions offer their shoes to someone who forgot to pack their heels. Even when actors are low on cash, they always make room to continue supporting their friends and seeing their shows. When I first moved to NY without an agent or Equity card and with no idea of how to navigate auditions, I made tons of friends while waiting in those long non-union lines who selflessly gave me all the tips on how to submit for auditions, how to watch shows at the library at Lincoln Center, and how to get rush tickets. I think this is a community filled with love and support that sets it apart from other industries.

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? Last year, I worked at a startup in NYC as an engineer and was exposed to people my age or even younger who start and run their own businesses. I was completely inspired by their fearlessness and scrappiness in making things work despite the uphill battle of creating something new from scratch, and changing the way the business in their field is being done.

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be... Steve Jobs. (I know he passed away but that's who I'd like to have coffee with!)

To be successful in this business, it takes... Resilience - no matter how successful you become, you will still face a lot of rejection. 

Tell us a secret. I used to be obsessed with the video/arcade game Dance Dance Revolution. I would play it for hours at home and even reached the highest level of "Maniac.”

Q&A: Michael McElroy

Jackson Cline

Connect with Michael

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Michael's Episodes: Containing Multitudes Part 4 (#78), RENT (#83), & Next to Normal (#84)

 

Where are you from? Shaker Heights, Ohio

Broadway credits: Next to Normal, Rent, The Wild Party, Deaf West Big River, Patti LuPone on Broadway, The Who’s Tommy, High Rollers Social Pleasure Club, Miss Saigon

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? I closed a show Off-Broadway on a Sunday. The next day had an audition for Miss Saigon as the 2nd replacement. I had made it all the way down to the end initially, but didn’t get it. Monday, I went to the Broadway Theatre, sang onstage, went home and took a nap.  When I woke up, my answering machine was beeping. I called my agent, and they told me I booked it and started the next day.  

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? Gypsy of the Year

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? I know what it takes to do eight shows a week, but I’m always fascinated by sitting on the other side of the curtain and how I’m able to have the same feeling I had when I saw my first show.  

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? Writing. And teaching.  

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be… Michelle Obama.

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose… Leontyne Price.

To be successful in this business, it takes… talent, strong work ethic, and a great reputation.

Tell us a secret. I love romance novels.