Hi, I'm Morgan! I'm a twenty-something theater critic and writer (which really just means I've been a Theater Kid my whole life but now I'm an adult) based somewhere between Baltimore and Washington DC. 

Hopefully, I can help you discover a new show or the next song that will be stuck in your head for weeks on end.

I've been a theater writer since 2016, and I'm so excited to share my passion for the arts with you! Happy reading!

Welcome to Intermission!

Me in front of the harbor that houses the Statue of Liberty in New York City

#OnlyIntermission: Interview with Theater Influencer Zoe Ennis

Zoe Ennis is a popular theater influencer and performer. Boasting over 82,000 followers on Instagram and almost 17,000 on Tik Tok, Ennis has made a name for herself by sharing daily news and video clips of musical performances and Broadway performers on her Instagram account, @basically_broadway. Her relatable reels and Tik Tok videos document her life as a theater performer and how her life has changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I’m a high schooler, and obviously I love theater and Broadway. I used to be a dancer, but then I realized that it was really the performing aspect of it that I really loved most. I started taking acting classes, and I realized that I liked the community feeling of theater. Nothing has ever really given me the same passionate feeling that that has given me.

When did you start taking theater classes and getting away from dance?

I think I was in elementary school- I think I was about nine. Through the class, we’d get performance opportunities. I never stopped taking classes, so I was able to start performing as well.

Were your performances more through community theater or just school productions?

It was a good mix of both. I think I only got to start doing school shows when I got to middle school, so for the most part, it was theater in my community.

What was your first show?

I guess if we’re counting when I did dance, it would be “The Nutcracker” because we did that every single year, which was very fun. But I think the first real show I did, I think, was a small play based off of a poem. I probably couldn’t tell you the title but it was something very abstract. I think the first big performance I did though was “Shrek The Musical.” I played Teen Fiona during that one song when Fiona ages. I think that was probably the first real show. It was a fun time!

How has your experience evolved from playing Teenage Fiona to what you’re doing now?

I still do a lot of community theater and performing, but I’ve gotten a lot more serious about it. I’ve tried to study the craft a lot more- I’ve looked up acting methods and I’ve taken screen acting classes. I’ve gotten more serious about it and I’m looking at doing that for my future.

Can you elaborate on what you mean by “studying the craft?”

I try to study different techniques like Meisner and Method acting, so I know more of what I’m doing and how to develop my emotions.

How long have you had your Basically Broadway platform, and how did it start?

I started it I think around 2015. But when it first started, it was not what it is today. It was originally a “Phantom of the Opera” fan account, which sounds wild, but that’s what I was obsessed with at the time. When I started to find more musicals, it started to evolve into an account for all musicals. When Tik Tok came out, I started making reels, and it evolved into something more personal that I felt a deeper connection to because I started to really meet people.

At what point did you notice this shift and start to evolve your platform?

I think it was definitely when I started to make reels on Instagram because that’s when I actually started to say who I was to my followers. Before, I was strictly anonymous, but when they started to know who I was and I started to get to know them better, I think that’s when it was really a shift in the dynamic of the page.

What encouraged you to start your account?

To be honest, I just had no one to talk to about musical theater and Broadway. At the time, it was “Phantom of the Opera” and no one around me really enjoyed it, so I wanted to find people who liked the same things I did. It took a bit to start getting out of it what I wanted though- you definitely have to have a drive to continue going, because it’s not easy.

How long did it take you to grow a substantial base or following?

I’d say it was about three years when it really started growing and got to where it is now- probably in 2019.

Can you talk about the process of creating/posting content?

I usually have to wait for the motivation or inspiration to strike. Especially now, that’s difficult, but the nice thing about being a creator is that you have your own schedule. You can decide when you want to make stuff and when you want to post stuff.

How long does it take to create video or reel from beginning to end?

I would say about an hour or two hours. It depends on the type of reel for sure, but it usually doesn’t take too long.

Do you have a favorite type of video or reel that you like to create the most?

I love doing outfits inspired by musicals! I have been a big a fan of doing those and think they’re really fun.

Ennis posts a variety of Tik Tok videos and Instagram reels to her accounts

How do you find the videos you share? Can you walk me through that process?

I go on a deep YouTube hunt! Sometimes I’ll look through my Explore or I’ll just search Broadway and scroll deep deep down. My goal is to find stuff that people haven’t seen, so I really hunt and look for stuff.

How do you decide what part of the video to include, since Instagram only gives you 60 seconds?

I usually watch the whole video and find which part sticks out to me the most or which part gave me chills. Whichever part I find to be most fascinating.

Have you ever come across something that you had never heard of or seen before but ending up being blown away?

Yes, for sure! My followers also send me stuff to watch sometimes. I think there was this one clip from a production of Les Mis, and I forget where it was from, but I had never seen it before and it was from “One Day More.” And you know, that number is just so spectacular.

Is “Phantom” still your favorite?

Yes! I just love that show so much. It was my gateway to theater, and I just think it’s brilliant.

There have been so many versions of “Phantom” over the years. Do you have a favorite?

I am a big supporter of the 25th anniversary cast. I watch that production like once a month. They’re just all so good and they work so well together. Their chemistry is just off the charts.

Who is, in your opinion, the most famous or coolest account that follows you?

Oh gosh. I remember at one point, the “Phantom of the Opera” Broadway account followed me, and that was pretty cool. I’m a big fan of the show, but then something happened to their Instagram. I don’t know if it’s gone, but it kind of concerned me when it happened, but they did used to follow me. Playbill also shared one of my posts one time.

Can you talk about your Tik Tok?

I think I got the app during quarantine last year, and at first, I was like I’m not really going to make an account, I already have the Instagram account and I don’t need another social media. But, here we are. I ended up making one, and I saw a lot of other theater creators on there, and I thought it was a really neat way to get reach to a lot of different people. The algorithm on there definitely makes it easier to reach more people.

Do you notice a difference in your Tik Tok versus Instagram audience?

I think there is. There’s definitely a lot less people on Tik Tok, but I think they’re a bit younger on Tik Tok. I’m not sure on that though.

Do you have a favorite video/post/piece of content you’ve created?

At this moment, no. I don’t think I do.

I know there are a lot of theater accounts on Instagram that are similar to yours (sharing clips, etc.) Is there anything you do to make your account stand out or that you think is really cool/different/unique?

Not particularly, but everyone’s account is different because everyone is different and they’re being themselves. So I guess I would have to say being myself and making my content.

Would you ever consider a collaboration with any of them?

Oh yeah, for sure. They’re all such cool people and we all love the same things. I’ve gotten to talk to a lot of them before.

What was the first Broadway show you saw?

It was “Mamma Mia!” I was really young at the time, and I don’t even think I wanted to go, which is baffling to me now. But I ended up really enjoying it and it was really fun because you know, “Mamma Mia!” is such a fun show and the cast was so energetic. It was so contagiously exciting and happy, and I just loved it.

Do you have a favorite performer?

It changes very frequently, but right now, I really love Katrina Lenk. I just think her stage presence is phenomenal, even from her Tony performance for “The Band’s Visit.” You can just tell her characters are so three dimension and her presence is just so magical to me. I’d love to see her live one day, in “Company,” hopefully. There’s something so authentic about her.

Is there anyone that has had a particular impact or been an inspiration for you in your theater and performing experiences?

I would say all my theater teachers because I think they have all reminded me what it’s really about. It’s about what you’re feeling and what you feel with other people and it’s about telling a story. I feel like they’ve always tried to help ground the people they teach and remind them of that and remind them what’s important about it.

Do you have a go-to I’m-alone-so-it's-time-to-belt song?

It would have to be that part in “Phantom of the Opera” during the song “The Phantom of the Opera” when Christine is just pouring out those high notes. I can’t really do it completely, but you know.

You’ve been invited to some pretty cool events, like the Broadway Sings concert, the “Pretty Woman” original cast recording, and the preview of “Six.” Can you talk about that and how you get to go to these events?

Oh those are so cool! Usually, someone from their staff team will reach out to me via email or my Instagram DMs and usually, they’ll just reach out and offer. I was so shocked when it started happening, but it’s always such a wild experience to have.

Ennis at a performance of "Hadestown" on Broadway

That’s so cool! Are the invites ever part of a promotional deal or is it more just because you have an online presence?

It’s usually just “Hey, you have a presence.” This one time, I think it was Atlantic Records, that I got to go to this “Pretty Woman” cast album party where the cast was there singing. There were refreshments and we were all just kind of mingling. But for “Six,” I just had to post this one image for when they were announcing they were coming to Broadway, so I guess it depends. I’d have to say the “Pretty Woman” event was my favorite though. That was just so surreal, and that was one of the first ones I got to go to. I was so nervous but so excited, and it was just such a cool feeling.

It looks like Disney is also a big part of your life. Can you talk about that and your experience as Belle?

It is! I recently started working as a Party Princess, well, pre-covid, so it’s been rough, but I do really love Disney.

I'm glad you mentioned that, because I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about the impact of covid. I know everyone involved in theater or performing arts has their own feelings about the shutdown, but can you talk about how it’s affected you?

It’s definitely been very rough. I’d be lying if I said I was ok most of the time, or had just adjusted to it, because I really haven’t. I guess just by really sticking with the people around me and trying to keep those connections strong, which is especially hard right now, because of social distancing and not being able to see everybody.

Before covid, how often did you see a show on Broadway?

I’d say about five times a year. It was starting to become more than that pretty recently, before the shutdown.

Other than social media, how, if at all, have you been consuming theater content?

Well I often listen to the music, really just any cast album I can get my hands on. I often look at clips on YouTube or talk to my friends about it.

Have you personally been affected by the lack of live theater?

I’ve been really fortunate that I’ve been able to perform since the shutdown, but it’s for sure been very different, either with shields or masks. The connection with the audience feels a lot different, and with the actors around you. It’s harder for it to feel like what it was.

Because a mask covers most your face, how have you had to adjust your performance style and ways of portraying characters?

You definitely have to emote more through your eyes and your eyebrows. It’s kind of hard to get the hang of that sometimes, but I guess just overall, trying to be more expressive. It’s a lot of trial and error, trying different things and seeing how people react to it.

These days, no costume is complete without a matching mask

How often have you gotten to perform in the last year?

Between being on cast and on technical crews, I’ve been able to be a part of four shows. I’m really thankful for it.

Of all of the shows you’ve performed in, which one has been your favorite?

I was in a production of “Be More Chill” a few years ago, and that was so fun! It was right before the show went to Broadway, and it was just so cool. We did the original version of the show, because I know the script was heavily altered for Broadway, so the community theater I was at, we used the original version from when it was off-Broadway.

Have you ever been a part of a show that really surprised you or challenged you?

I was in a show recently that I had to step out of because it was just too emotional. I never expected that to happen to me because I always thought that with acting, I either just wouldn’t be feeling or getting into it enough. It was rather scary when it was the opposite and when you’re feeling too much and couldn’t get the feeling to go away.

You briefly mentioned this before, but it sounds like theater is your end career goal?

I believe so. It’s changed a lot in the past few years- when I was younger, I was for sure like I want to go into theater, but then I got older and I wanted to start being what people call more realistic. I was like I should go into marketing because I’m good with social media. But then recently, I’ve just kind of realized that I feel like I at least have to try, even if not everyone thinks it’s a good idea.

Is there anything else you want to add?

I would say that if anyone is ever thinking about starting a platform or starting some form of social media, I would just say to do it. I remember I was so hesitant to because I thought the people around me were going to judge me for it or think it was strange, but when you put yourself out there and when you’re authentic and show people what you love, you’ll draw the right people to you. To know that you’re meeting so many people around the globe is just such an amazing feeling. So if anyone is looking to start something, I recommend doing it as soon as you can.

You mentioned you have international followers?

Yes! I’ve gotten messages from people just so far away, which is wild to me. I think someone once said they were from Ukraine, and that just shocked me!

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

All photos courtesy of Zoe Ennis