As important as leads are in musicals, the people who make up the ensemble are just as important. Without the ensemble, you literally have no show and there is even less excitement and joy in a musical experience. The vast majority of a musical’s cast are in the ensemble. Found within the ensemble are understudies who cover for the leads in case they are out. The ensemble truly helps with believability.
For the most part, the ensemble helps create many different types of characters. For example in Wicked, the ensemble creates the extra students who attend Shiz and even create citizens of OZ. Without those pieces of Wicked, you are leaving out a lot of things that are beneficial to Wicked. Like in the case of Newsies, the ensemble mostly creates up the rest of the Newsies and their brotherhood is so important which is why you need the ensemble to create the other Newsboys. In the show, you mainly get to meet Jack Kelly, Davey, Les, and Crutchie, but you need the other Newsies for the story to make sense. Even in the case of Les Mis, the ensemble creates citizens of France, creates the rest of the students outside of Enjolras and Marius.
Just like leads, the ensemble also helps with musical emotions. They help express both positive and negative emotions. When I was younger, it was the exciting numbers that I loved the most. Now I have come to realize that the ensemble also creates negative emotions as well such as both versions of “Look Down”, “At the End of the Day”, and in Wicked, “What is This Feeling”. But in the Wicked song, to this day, it is the dancing that I look forward to the most even though it is important to understand that Elphaba and Glinda once strongly disliked each other.
Whenever I see a musical, the ensemble is highly important to create an incredible cast. When it comes to a wonderful cast, I want to see a strong ensemble and a strong set of leads. In a lot of ways, I feel like the ensemble has to work harder than the actual leads especially when it comes to the understudies and swings. Without the ensemble, you are left with virtually nothing and a lot of believability will be lost.
Why do you think the ensemble is beneficial?