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New York, NY
USA

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: John Eric Parker

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John's Season: Broadway at Every Stage

Where are you from? Brooklyn, NY

Broadway credits: The Book of Mormon, Memphis, All Shook Up, Rent

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? After 2 years of touring with the first national tour of RENT, I was ready to come home and STAY home for awhile. I put in my notice to leave the tour and, as luck would have it, the Broadway company was running short of coverage!! I was asked to come to the Broadway company for a couple of weeks and play the same role I played on tour. Timing is everything!!

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? The Tonys have always been the highlight of the year for me. Whether watching them at home or performing in them. I’m just as excited now as I was when I was a little brown boy in Brooklyn watching them on TV.

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? The varied lives of the people that work around us. The door person that was a former soap star or the props master that makes his own shoes and sang onstage with Pavarotti or the actor who used to practice law. Our tribe is brilliant, varied and beautiful!!

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? MUSIC!!! Latin jazz orchestras lately!!

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be… Auntie Maxine Waters!!!

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose… I’m smart enough to know the grass is always greener, so I think I’ll pass.

To be successful in this business, it takes… a clear definition of success for yourself and the passion and persistence to see it through.

Tell us a secret. Sometimes when I’m at the gym, I listen to the Promises, Promises cast recording. “Knowing When to Leave” on repeat!!! LOL

Q&A: Travis Waldschmidt

Jackson Cline

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Travis' Episodes: Broadway Sports (#98) & Broadway in Bryant Park (#99)

Where are you from? Dallas, TX

Broadway credits: Wicked (Debut), Matilda, Groundhog Day

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? I was in a fitting for West Side Story at The MUNY. My agents were calling, but I couldn’t answer. Then an email popped up on my phone with the subject line WICKED BWAY, and I almost fainted. I ran out of my fitting and immediately called my agents. It was incredible.

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? I LOVE Bway Bowling! It’s a great way to see all your friends from other shows and have some friendly competition to spice things up.

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? The cost that it takes to produce a Broadway show. I had no idea how much money… I knew it was a lot, but DAMN! 

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? I’m very inspired by music. Music is and has always been a constant in my life. Currently, I’m “burning holes” through Frank Ocean’s Blonde and Sampha’s Process albums. Music fuels me. 

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be... RuPaul! He’s amazing. I love what he stands for and would love to pick his brain.

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose... Barack Obama. 

To be successful in this business, it takes... hard work and a drive that is unwavering. There’s no one/right way to get to Broadway. Everyone’s path is different. You have to be willing to accept that no matter how steep the hills might be, you will preserve and achieve your goal. 

Tell us a secret: I was once in a boy band called Velocity… please. for the love of god, don’t Google it! 

Q&A: Casey Garvin

Jackson Cline

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Casey's Episodes: BC/EFA (#91), Broadway Sports (#98) & Broadway in Bryant Park (#99)

Where are you from? Ringwood, NJ - an hour outside the city. 

Broadway credits: Bullets Over Broadway, Disaster! The Musical, Miss Saigon (2017)

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? In Port Authority Bus Terminal. I think thats appropriate, being that it connects Jersey (where I'm from) and New York (where I now live and work) in some meta "childhood dreams meets reality" kind of way. Except Port Authority isn't exactly dreamy. I freaked out in the lobby, and the people around me asked what the good news was. They shared my excitement, and it was a cool New York moment. It was surreal.

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? Oh,there are so many, obviously, and so many fun and exciting events. I would say one of my favorites is Broadway Backwards. It's a fun opportunity to explore stories and moments we know and love from a different perspective. I know there are some female roles I would love to get a stab at, and I know some ladies who would love to play roles typically played by men. Gender-bending duets, same-sex dance partnering, what else can you ask for?! 

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? Something that has fascinated me recently has actually been lighting design. It's so specific and intricate, and I never paid too much attention to it when I was younger, because I never understood the impact it can have on a theatrical experience. As I am starting to work more on Broadway with such amazing lighting designers, it blows my mind how it all works. When you look up from the stage, you see hundreds of lights placed in different locations and angles being moved around during a tech process to shade and focus the entire story, and you end up with a result that most people don't know took hours and weeks to perfect. 

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? Not to get political, but this entire election has certainly inspired me to pay attention to politics and what I want to see the future of this country become. I am trying to force myself to learn about the things I am less knowledgable about, to understand what each side is fighting for, to create my own opinions, and then join the fight for the issues I feel are concerning and need changing. I think it has lit a fire under so many people and inspired the country as a whole to pay attention.

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be... George R. R. Martin. I am a super nerd and a huge fan of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels that the TV show Game of Thrones is based on. I would just geek out and talk in detail about his stories all day. 

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose... Beyoncé. She's fierce. 

To be successful in this business, it takes... A calm yet unwavering determination and focus. A creative mind and thick skin. The right amount of luck and preparation. 

Tell us a secret. I'm scared of the dark. 

Q&A: Anastacia McCleskey

Jackson Cline

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Anastacia's Episodes: Opening Night (#92) & Activism (#94)

Where are you from? Nashville, Tennessee

Broadway Credits: Tarzan, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, HAIR (2009), Waitress, Book of Mormon, Violet

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? Tony season

What is something about Broadway that fascinates you? The history and secret passageways of the different Broadway houses.

What, other than theater, has inspired you lately? Doing outreach with children and traveling the world to learn about other cultures.

If I could have coffee with any living person.... Barack Obama.

If I could trade place with someone for a day it would be... Blue Ivy.

To be successful in this business it takes... Knowing who you are and staying true to that. Also, staying humble!! 

Q&A: Linda Mugleston

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Linda's Episodes: Invited Dress (#90) & Opening Night (#92)

Where are you from? Shelley, Idaho. My high school mascot is a russet potato. Not kidding.

Broadway Credits: On the Town, Kiss Me, Kate, Into the Woods, Nine, Wonderful Town, Young Frankenstein, Anything Goes, Cinderella, On the 20th Century, Beautiful, Hello, Dolly!

How did you hear you'd booked your first show? I was freelancing with my agents, and my first audition in the city was for On the Town. I had a crazy fun, long audition for George Wolfe. I had some summer work lined up back in Indiana, but for some reason, I thought to myself that I was gonna book On the Town. I called Indiana and turned down the job even though my audition for George was just an initial one. After a LONG 3 weeks of no info, I got a callback for On the Town. After the callback, my agents called me at home to tell me I had booked the show!! Needless to say, I was over the moon! So my first audition in the city led to my first show and my Equity card!

What is your favorite event in the Broadway Community?  Of course I love the Tonys.

What, other than theatre, has inspired you lately? Marianne Williamson's talks every Tuesday night here in NYC. She is extraordinary.

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be... Meryl Streep. We share a birthday!

To be successful in this business, it takes... well, a bunch of things. Versatility has been key in my career. Craft, discipline, technique, observation, focus, good relationships with the creatives, fellow actors and crew members. Gaining a reputation for being easy to work with, kind and dependable. 

Q&A: Jamal Lee Harris

Jackson Cline

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Jamal's Episodes: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (#91) & Broadway Sports (#98)

Where are you from? Los Angeles, CA

Broadway credits: The Lion King

How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show? I was at one
of my many survival jobs... this one as a personal assistant... and my
agent called. IT WAS BROADWAY CALLING!

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? Ummm... Broadway Barks!

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? The strength and stamina is takes to do 8 shows a week.

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? Good music. Really into Anderson Paak right now. Oh, and the movie Moonlight...

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be... Oprah.

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose... Richard Branson.

To be successful in this business, it takes... doglike determination.

Tell us a secret. I saw this last version of The Color Purple 4 times.

Q&A: Tyler Hanes

Jackson Cline

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Tyler's Episodes: Theater Neighbors (#89), Invited Dress (#90) & Opening Night (#92)

Where are you from? Marietta, GA

Broadway Credits: Oklahoma! (2002 Revival), Urban CowboyThe Boy From OzThe FrogsSweet Charity (2005 Revival), HairsprayA Chorus Line (2006 Revival), On the Town (2014 Revival), Cats (2016 Revival)

How did you hear you'd booked your first Broadway show? The summer after my freshman year of college, I flew up to NYC for the day to audition for the Broadway revival of Oklahoma! I had expected a huge turnout and to be there all day, but there was about 30 guys, and it only lasted about an hour. Since it was so quick, I had a lot of time to kill before my return flight to Atlanta took off, so I grabbed an early dinner with my friend Sarah Jayne Jensen, who had also auditioned for Oklahoma! earlier that day. While we were waiting for our food to arrive, I got the call from my agents that I booked the show. Shortly after, Sarah Jayne got the call that she too had booked the show. Our impromptu dinner soon became a celebratory meal, because we were going to be making our Broadway debuts together at the Gershwin Theatre.

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? The Gypsy run. There is so much love in the theatre that night, and the electricity it creates onstage is unparalleled.

What's something about Broadway that fascinates you? The theatres. Not only are they architecturally stunning, the history that comes along with it intrigues me. My favorite thing to do is be alone on the stage with the ghost light long after the audience has left. You can literally feel the energy of those who came before you. I also love looking for little pieces of the past that are hidden all over the theatre (like the signatures under the dressing tables of actors who previously inhabited your dressing room).

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? Teaching. I am very passionate about arts education and helping kids find the tools they need to unlock their own creativity. Nothing is better than watching a young artist grow and achieve their goals.

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be... Ann Reinking.

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose... my cats, Annabelle and Chimbley. They lead such difficult lives- sleeping all ay and then being loved on and pampered when awake.

To be successful in this business, it takes... passion, a thick skin, a kind heart, a great work ethic, confidence, a sense of humor, a good support system, and a life outside of the business.

Tell us a secret. At 15 minutes to places, I have to find a place that is quiet and dark so I can pray. Currently, I am locking myself in the 3rd floor bathroom at the Neil Simon at 15.

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

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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

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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.