by Speakeysie Contributor Marcus McGhee
To all my fellow performers out there who find themselves getting cast in the ensemble of shows:
You ARE a force.
You ARE talented.
You ARE a storyteller.
You ARE an artist.
In the theatre community, especially at the educational level, it’s not rare that a person who gets cast as an ensemble member in a show deems themselves “less than” or “not good enough”. This is all kinds of wrong, my friends. While you may have times where you question YOUR worth in a show, a SHOW would be worth nothing if it weren’t for the ensemble.
Imagine “Seize the Day” from Newsies with Jack and Davey giving that rousing speech… to themselves.
Imagine “One Day More” from Les Mis with Enjolras marching at the end with the flag…yet no one standing behind him in solidarity.
Awful, right!? So the next time you start to feel inadequate, remember that you were put into the show for a reason. Remember that you have just as much right to be in the room where it happens (😉) as everybody else. The director and/or casting team were your initial audience. They saw something in you in the audition room and gave you a chance to share your passion and talent with an even bigger audience. Be humble, but take that opportunity and RUN with it. Stanislavski could not have been more accurate when he said,
“There are no small parts, only small actors.”
You are truly as big and captivating as you choose to be. Now, that doesn’t mean steal the focus away from where it needs to be every single time you hit the stage.
However, no choreographer could possibly get mad at you for having the biggest smile on your face during the big dance number.
No music director could possibly get mad at you for singing the heck out of your harmonies as if they were the melody.
No director could possibly get mad at you for using every ounce of your being to tell YOUR story not just to the first row, but to the back of the house.
So the next time you get cast in the ensemble of a show, soak up every second of it and have FUN! How cool is it to get the chance to form your own unique character? You have the freedom to make them pretty much anything you wish, so don’t be afraid to go CRAZY with creativity! (Just be prepared for the director to tell you that you’re doing a bit too much, sometimes. 😂)
And finally, to theatre-goers, the next time you see a show, don’t feel obligated to keep your eyes glued on one place/person. One of my favorite things to do, actually, is to watch what’s happening in the background. We hear the lines that the leads say and that helps us comprehend their story, but watch an ensemble member and try to figure out theirs as well. You might find it to be something that you wouldn’t have expected! Also, if you get the chance to chat with actors after a performance and come across an ensemble member you enjoyed watching, don’t hesitate to tell them that! It can really make that person’s day. I know it makes mine!
The ensemble is equally as important as the leads. The ensemble takes up the vast majority of the show after all. There are group numbers. I love the ensemble just as much as I love the leads- without the ensemble the dance wouldn’t even be in the musicals. So many aspects of a musical would be missing if it wasn’t for the ensemble. So I understand the importance of the ensemble- they are equally as important as the leads.