Whatever Lola Wants: J. Harrison Ghee on Playing "Kinky Boots" Star

Whatever Lola Wants: J. Harrison Ghee on Playing "Kinky Boots" Star

From the moment Lola steps on stage in Kinky Boots, she sparkles – and not just because of the rhinestone-studded wardrobe. While the sequins help, much of that glow comes from long-time performer J. Harrison Ghee, who has played Lola both on tour and on Broadway.

While Ghee has “never counted” how many times he’s gone on as Lola, he has been playing the role for three years after starting as a swing in the national tour.

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5 Ways You Can Be a Better Director

5 Ways You Can Be a Better Director

Over the years, I have written many articles that offer advice to performers. Whether it's audition pieces, college choices or just ways to be more sought-after. And while it's certainly great to have a much advice out there for performers, I realize there are a lot of areas where directors, designers, and even theatre groups could improve as well. 

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It's Time for a Tony for Best Ensemble

Last year Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 received the ninth annual "ACCA" Award for Outstanding Broadway Chorus. Presented by Equity's Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs (ACCA), the ACCA Award is the only industry accolade of its kind to honor the distinctive talents and contributions made by the original chorus members of a Broadway musical.

Past winners include Past Broadway chorus recipients of the ACCA Award are Legally Blonde (2007), In the Heights (2008), West Side Story (2009), Fela! (2010), The Scottsboro Boys (2011), Newsies (2012), Pippin (2013) Beautiful (2014), An American in Paris (2015) and Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed (2016).

Upon hearing this news, I was thrilled for the cast but it got me wondering, "why isn't there a Tony Award for this yet?"

Now before the Tony "purists" start in on me, let me make a couple things clear:

1. I don't think a Tony Award should become a participation ribbon.

2. I know there are some areas of theatre that would be near impossible to properly adjudicate, ie. Stage Manager. 

However, the overall performance of members in the ensemble is an area that certainly could be adjudicated as part of the Tony nomination process. From the performance of various roles, conciseness of choreography and harmonization, there is a lot to consider.

And it's not like entire casts or ensembles aren't awarded in other industries. In addition to the ACCA Award, the Screen Actor's Guild also awards entire casts of movies and television shows, even more so, they are the final awards of the ceremony. 

I'm not looking to add competition into the Broadway season, but it would be nice to truly recognize these incredibly hard-working performers with more than just a group performance during the telecast(or not, ahem Hello Dolly!). 

With all due respect to talent in the lead and featured roles, a quality performance from the ensemble is, in many cases, just as important. They are the bullets in Hamilton, Ozians in Wicked and the groundhog in Groundhog Day. These people play more roles in more performances for less money. And for far too many of them, this might be the only time they perform on these stages.  

I sincerely hope the Tony Awards truly step up and recognize these performers and etch their names in Tony history. 

UPDATE: Since I wrote this article last year, AEA has started a campaign to make this award a reality at the Tonys. The campaign is title . Everyone On Stage. More info is listed here. The idea? The title. If this happens, I'm taking credit for giving them the idea :)

When Is Broadway Going to Start Honoring Replacement Casts the Right Way?

When Is Broadway Going to Start Honoring Replacement Casts the Right Way?

I have the perfect Broadway trivia question for your next party. Throw out the following question to your guests,

"Name a Tony Award that was created but never awarded?"

You might get a multitude of answers but a correct one would be, Best Performance by an Actor or Actress in a Recreated Role.

Yes, back in 2005, the Tony Awards Administration created the new category. However, less than a year later, it was removed and never awarded. 

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Theatre Saved My Life. It Can Save Others Too

Theatre Saved My Life. It Can Save Others Too

Depression: To me, it is one of the most destructive and misunderstood diseases on the planet. It is to the spirit what cancer is to the body. Slowly but surely, it eats away at who you are until there is nothing left of you but a miserable, empty shell of a person. The number of victims who lost their lives while fighting it off is countless. It is the worst possible thing that could be inflicted on a person’s psyche, and personally, I wouldn’t wish it on my own worst enemy.

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Theatre Will Survive

Theatre Will Survive

Well, good friends, we are living in volatile times. This is by no means a surprise. Predictions were made and reality soon followed suit. We are alerted on social media when the next controversy rolls in. Then, we find out it either wasn’t a controversy or it was and people don’t believe there even was a controversy. The comments section is filled to the brim with people who sit by their keyboards waiting to pounce on the next unsuspecting person they disagree with. To top it all off, there have been rumors that government funding for the arts will be cut. While this is disheartening, (one theatre maker I know personally questioned the longevity of our profession), it is not surprising.

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Countdown: My Top Ten Andrew Lloyd Webber Songs

Countdown: My Top Ten Andrew Lloyd Webber Songs

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber has been a Broadway fixture for the past 50 years. He wrote his first show with Tim Rice, The Likes of Us, in 1965. Today the theatre icon turns 70 years old. 

So what better time to look back on this polarizing icon of musical theatre by ranking, what I feel, are his best 10 pieces of work. 

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6 Musical Theater Songs That Perfectly Capture the Creative Process

6 Musical Theater Songs That Perfectly Capture the Creative Process

Sometimes, when I’m looking for inspiration as I write, I turn to musical theater. It makes sense that such a creative medium would be chock full of songs that capture the creative process so well. Here are some of my favorites—while a few are specific to writing, I think anyone who has ever been stuck in a creative rut can find some inspiration within them. 

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From the Barricades to Yorktown: A Chat with Hamilton's Kyle Scatliffe

From the Barricades to Yorktown: A Chat with Hamilton's Kyle Scatliffe

Kyle Scatliffe is currently starring in the second National Tour of Hamilton, playing the roles of Marquis de Lafayette/ Thomas Jefferson which recently began performances in Seattle at The Paramount Theatre. Mr. Scatliffe is known for playing Enjolras in the 2014 Broadway revival of Les Miserables, and Harpo in the 2015 Broadway Revival of The Color Purple.  He also has performed on the West End in The Scottsboro Boys playing the role of Haywood Patterson which earned him an Olivier Award Nomination for “Best Actor in a Musical”.

I had a chance to chat with Kyle about his journey as an actor. But first, I had to ask him what went through his mind when he got the call that he was cast in Hamilton. 

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