by Ashley Andrews
When people ask me if I have always wanted to work on Broadway, the answer was “of course.” However, I never dreamed it would become a reality.
I was walking through Covent Garden in between shows on An American in Paris on the West End, when my agent called. They said, “So an offer has come in.” I replied, “What offer?” as I hadn’t auditioned for anything recently. They then went on to say how it would be a dance captain position starting in July with some pre-production dates. I still didn’t know what offer. I finally stopped my agent and said, “Sorry, what job is this?” She replied, simply: “King Kong on Broadway.”
I’m not quite sure what happened in the next five minutes to follow. I hadn’t auditioned for the show, so I had no idea at all that an offer was coming my way. I was totally and utterly overwhelmed, excited, surprised, nervous and happy. I’m pretty sure I screamed and said a lot of swear words.
My one connection to the show was my good friend and work colleague Drew McOnie, who was to be the Director and Choreographer of King Kong on Broadway. I first met Drew over eight years ago on a show we did together, and since then we have become good friends and worked together on serval projects. I’m most proud of being one of the original members of his company, The McOnie Company. As for King Kong, I guess it came down to timing. I had successfully made myself available for work in New York and so the puzzle fitted together.
The idea to move to the states was first planted in my head about eight years ago when a director in New York offered me a job. While I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity, I couldn’t do it legally because I didn’t have a green card. I thought I’m never going to be able to achieve a green card in a million years.
I understand now just how hard it is to get a green card. It took a lot of time and effort.
I’m still in disbelief that I was granted one and now I am dance captain on an original production on Broadway.
As previews begin for the Broadway mounting of King Kong, I’m struck at how similar the process is from working on the West End. A show is a show. Apart from a few Equity rules that are different, the process is the same. Everything just seems bigger and brighter here.
I’m proud of myself for getting to where I am today and I know I wouldn’t be here without the unconditional support of family and friends. From the teachers who taught me how to do what I do, to my agent who keeps me in front of the right people and pushes me forward to achieve things I never knew I could. Then to the choreographers and directors that believed in me and gave me the chance to show what I can do. Then there are the people behind the scenes who kept me going for twelve years on the West End: singing coaches, personal trainers, physiotherapists, massage therapists, acupuncturist, dietitians, Pilates instructors... the list goes on.
To them, I say thank you. It takes a team to achieve a dream and that’s something that gives me strength and inspiration in this new chapter.