Ryann Redmond, Kevin Duda & Ben Cameron Set for The Ensemblist's READING AND WORKSHOPS Episode
While there are many ideas for musicals, especially those inspired by books and movies as of late, not all will have the opportunity to make it to Broadway. Sure, the successful blockbuster hits, such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, and Wicked make mounting a Broadway musical look easy, but none of these shows would be as successful as they are now if they had used the first draft of the script. Oftentimes, musicals undergo a long period of development to go from page to stage, and even after performing the show, there are more changes that are made.
This developmental process that shows undergo consists of readings and workshops that allow creative teams to get feedback from actors and small audiences to help shape the show. Additionally, this process allows creators to have the opportunity to receive financial backing from producers to further develop (and hopefully produce) the musical. Some actors are lucky enough to get involved with an early reading of a show and continue to stay with the production until it opens on Broadway.
On this episode of The Ensemblist, Nikka and Mo interview three performers who have been able to watch a musical grow from the workshop stages to Opening Night on The Great White Way. These performers have firsthand experience of how many changes an original musical endures in order to garner success. As members of different original Broadway casts, Ben Cameron (Wicked), Kevin Duda (The Book of Mormon, Beautiful), and Ryann Redmond (Bring It On, If/Then) discuss why the development of a musical is necessary and the challenges they witnessed along the way.
Cameron (Wicked, Aida, Footloose) has appeared in two original casts of Broadway shows: Footloose & Wicked. He reveals some of the drastic changes Wicked encountered from its first reading to the version of the musical that has now been seen by millions. Additionally, Cameron conveys how necessary the of collaboration amongst writers, producers, creative team members, and actors is throughout the development process and how rewarding the entire experience can be.
Duda (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, The Book of Mormon, Les Liaisons Dangereuses) can currently be seen in the ensemble of Beautiful, where he originated the roles of Neil Sedaka and Lou Adler. He explains how each show takes a unique journey to Broadway, especially in terms of the length of the development process; Duda worked on pre-Broadway readings and workshops for both The Book of Mormon and Beautiful. Duda also discusses the joys of getting to originate roles.
Redmond (If/Then, Bring It On: The Musical) is currently performing in the ensemble of If/Then. She reveals how she got to help influence her character, Bridget, in Bring It On throughout the workshop process. Another benefit of developing a musical, as Redmond explains, is the connections that can be made with writers and creative team members. She talks about how readings and rehearsals help to clarify and strengthen the writers' words and characters' actions.
New episodes of The Ensemblist can be downloaded every two weeks through the iTunes store by searching for "The Ensemblist." Episodes can be also be streamed on Stitcher Radio, TuneIn, and downloaded directly from Podbean at theensemblist.podbean.com.
The next episode will feature interviews from ensemblists who have performed in movie musicals, such as Chicago, Hairspray, and Across the Universe.
Our website, TheEnsemblist.com, features stories, Q&As, and blog posts from those in the know about life as an ensemblist, plus cool stuff we can't NOT share. You can also follow @theensemblist on Twitter and Like us at facebook.com/theensemblist.