"May We All" Cast Works With Nashville Cast Member
by Emilie Jenson, Public Information Office
Posted on 3/9/2023
As one of the first performing arts groups in the country to produce and perform the new country musical “May We All,” the Iowa Central Musical Theatre cast had the unique opportunity recently to spend three days working with a member of the show’s Nashville cast.
Brandon Ellis, a New York City actor with Broadway and London’s West End performance credentials to his name, starred in the show’s Nashville debut in June 2022. While researching the show, Sophomore Madi Maschmann, a member of the Iowa Central cast, discovered and reached out to Ellis. Connections were made and Ellis was able to travel to Fort Dodge to attend the Saturday, Sunday and Monday performances.
But it did not stop with having Ellis in the audience for the Iowa Central cast. Theatre Director Teresa Jackson invited Ellis to join the performances, allowing him to make a special guest appearance as Bailey Stone, the fictional Nashville recording artist and songwriter who comes to Harmony, Tennessee to meet lead character Jenna Coates, an up-and-coming country musician struggling to make her big break in the music business. Ellis joined Malaney Butrick, who played Coates, on stage for a scene to perform the original song “Back to my Boots.”
“It’s been a ton of fun to join this cast,” said Ellis. “This is only the second or third time ever for a licensed performance of this show.”
Between performances, Ellis spent time on campus working with students in Jackson’s acting classes, held question and answer sessions and also critiqued state-qualifying speech performances for local high school students Mikeal Campbell of Fort Dodge Senior High, Briley Singer of St. Edmond High School and Jaynee DePue of Humboldt High School.
DePue performed her solo musical theater piece, “Little Miss Perfect” for Ellis and an audience of peers ahead of Saturday’s IHSSA State Individual Speech Contest.
“I was nervous but really excited about it,” said the Humboldt High School junior. “That really laid the foundation of knowing I want to go into it (musical theater). It’s amazing as a little town Iowa girl to get critiques and corrections from someone who’s been in the industry and I’m grateful Iowa Central gave me that opportunity.”
Ellis, who has had roles in the Broadway productions of “The Bandstand,” “Once” and “Company” as well as made appearances in several television shows and served as a spokesperson in commercials for Firehouse Subs and Quaker Oats, spoke with students about his experience as an actor and what it takes to make it on stage and screen in New York.
“You always want to be prepared for the next job,” he said. “Shows run for a while, but they always end. Everything ends workwise in acting, it’s like having job interviews every year, but it is what I signed up for and I love it.”
I found a program at Iowa Central that fit exactly what I was looking to do for a career.