The International Cast on Broadway Series: Ashley Andrews
Photos taken by Roberto Araujo for The Ensemblist
The Ensemblist and TheatreArtLife got together to find out which Broadway cast members are not from the USA. In this International Cast on Broadway Series, we talk to those who have come from all corners of the world to perform in NYC. We ask them about their work, their life and the path they took to living the Broadway dream. This is Ashley Andrews from the UK and he is currently Dance Captain, Swing and Resident Choreographer for King Kong and soon to be Associate Choreographer on the US Tour of Jesus Christ Super Star.
Ashley, you have made the transition from West End to Broadway. Are there many differences between the two?
The Equity union rules here are very different and it’s something I am still getting used to. The main difference I think might be the money Broadway makes and spends on shows. From the wages, the ticket prices etc.
For the most part a show is a show regardless of which country/city you’re in. Ultimately we are all trying to tell a story. I think both Broadway and the West End have credits in their own right on doing this and we learn from each other.
What made you move across the water to Broadway?
Having worked for 12 years all over the world, predominantly in the UK and on the West End, I felt it was time for a new challenge. I always push myself, both creatively and personally – I never stay comfortable especially creatively. I have worked with a fair few American creatives over the years who have always said to me ‘you need to come to Broadway’.
This was a dream that I didn’t think possible. However, in 2018 I thought ‘what have I got to lose?’ and was successfully granted a green card, so the dream started to become a reality.
How did you get started in the performing arts industry? What drove you to this career? Where did you train?
It all started when I was about 7/8 (I think!) As a child I had something called ADHD, “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder”. Which basically means I was super hyperactive and found it hard to focus on things that didn’t interest me. One of my primary school teachers told my mum that she thought that I needed to go to a theatrical school to allow me to express myself.
I am not from a theatrical family at all, however my mum sought out a local theatre school and got me an audition. I successfully got into the school and then spent every weekend singing and acting. When I reached the age of 15 my teachers at the school said if I want to go into this professionally, I will need to get my dancing up to the same level, to be a triple threat. I started going to a dance school where I then trained every night after school as well as a musical theatre school on the weekends.
At the age of 16 I auditioned for several professional Musical Theatre colleges in London. I was accepted into all of them with full scholarships, which left me with a decision to make. I decided to go and train at Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom Surrey where I graduated from in 2006.
Do you have a favourite role or show you have played/played in?
This is a tricky question to answer – my favourite roles or shows that I’ve done have always been because of the people I worked with. However, there are three things that I’m particularly proud of in my career …. making my West End debut in Chicago at The Cambridge Theatre when I was 21. Being a founder member of the ‘McOnie Company’ and performing Jekyll and Hyde at the Old Vic in London. Then of course making my Broadway debut as Dance Captain, Swing and Resident Choreographer in King Kong.
In addition to live entertainment, you have also participated in film and TV projects. How would you compare the creative process differences in each genre?
The main difference is that when performing on stage you can’t do another ‘take.’ That’s the thrill of live theatre. Working on film you can repeat things over and over until you achieve the desired shot.
You are currently Dance Captain & Resident Choreographer for King Kong on Broadway. What does this role look like on a daily basis? What does your day look like?
My main role is to maintain the show from a choreographic point of view. I always have rehearsals, show watches, lift calls, scheduling, hold auditions for the show, give notes on the show. Being part of the management there are always other issues to deal with that come up on a daily basis.
I am also Swing which means I have to know everyone’s track on stage to be able to fill in for anyone at any time. So with rehearsals, auditions, scheduling etc. in the day followed by shows at night it is quite the work load.
What skills are you still looking to learn or acquire?
I am here in NYC to be pushed personally and creatively. As creatives in theatre it is our job to find new ways of telling a story and hope the audience understand and fall in love with that story. I want to work with as many creatives as possible on as many productions as possible. By doing so I want to learn different ways of telling a story and challenge what people think they already know about theatre.
Do you have a mentor or a role model?
I don’t really have a mentor or role model. What drives me forward in everything I do is my family. Without my family I wouldn’t be where I am today. They have supported me through everything and so everything I do is for them and to make them proud.
London or New York? Tell us why.
That’s a hard one… I love London. Having lived there for nearly half of my life I have a special connection to the city. However New York is my next chapter and I am totally open to all this city has to offer.
What are your goals for your career? What kind of projects or roles you would like to undertake?
I have never really set myself any goals. To set goals is almost to set yourself a limit. Why limit yourself?! What do you do once you have reached your goal?! I find I let my career take me where it leads me. Broadway wasn’t something I thought possible and yet here I am. For now I am Resident Choreographer on a Broadway show and soon to be the Associate Choreographer on the US Tour of Jesus Christ Super Star.
Who knows what will come after that… watch this space!
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Published in collaboration with The Ensemblist