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New York, NY

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. 


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

Q&A: Brian O'Brien

Nikka Lanzarone

Connect with Brian


Brian's Episode: Holidays on Broadway (#12)

Where are you from? Monmouth Beach, New Jersey


How did you hear you’d booked your first Broadway show?  In 1997 STEEL PIER was one of the most anticipated shows of the season and it was filled with a cast of Broadway’s finest actors and dancers. Needing an immediate replacement while the show was still in previews, they had a number of invited auditions and finally had an open call, which I attended. I could sense that things were looking favorable for me at the audition but I left not being certain what the outcome might be. I headed home and recall sitting there thinking to myself “Please call, please call” and no sooner than that the phone rang. It was Tara Rubin calling (She was an associate with Johnson and Liff Casting, the biggest at that time) She sweetly let me know that I got the part and she stayed on the line like a patient 911 operator while I was screaming and crying. Sharing my joy and calming me down, she gave me all the details of a dream come true. Tara has called a few more times since then and I am eternally grateful for her role in shaping my career.

What is your favorite event in the Broadway community? All of the BC/EFA events are great bonding moments for the community. However, I must say that The Easter Bonnet competition is my favorite simply because by adding the element of creating the actual Bonnet you get more people at the theater involved. Wardrobe, Crew adding lighting elements and structure, and the company working together. There is a great amount of pride in creating something with your show.

What’s something about Broadway that fascinates you? That night after night in over 20 theaters thousands of people come to see a live performance in a 10 block by 2 block area of the city. Broadway is what draws people to midtown and the advancements in story telling and creativity are inspiring.

What, other than theatre, has inspired you recently? I am currently working on a writing project with my cast mate Jason Patrick Sands. We teamed up after creating a few successful BC/EFA sketches and are focusing on a unique facet of life in the theater.

If I could have coffee with any living person, it would be… I’d say Pope Francis, I believe that he is currently one of the greatest forces for positive change at this time. Growing up Catholic, my faith still remains a guiding source of inspiration and comfort in my career.

If I could trade places with anybody for a day, I would choose… For some reason I’m hung up on this question…. Other than for trivial reasons however people like one of the Koch brothers and in that day I’d give away all my money to people and causes that matter, or John Boehner and in that day apologize for all the troubles he has caused this country. Trying to remain nonpolitical I would likely make light of such statements.

To be successful in this business, it takes… Tenacity, focus, and patience.  More importantly, know what you do well and focus your talents there.  I never intended to be dancing in the ensemble of a Broadway show, however, I knew that I danced well enough to get the part and convincingly cover the leading man.  This in itself may have pigeonholed me as purely an understudy and my skill set may be more valuable as such and therefore being seen for roles and breaking out of the chorus poses its own challenges.  That being said, as one that performs in the ensemble I have had steady employment on a production contract for over 10 years while understudying and playing some great roles in the process.

Tell us a secret: I have never taken a professional dance class.