How Does the New Moulin Rouge! The Musical Compare to the Real Thing in Paris?
On opening night, there were a few members in the audience with a unique perspective on the show: Dancers and artistic staff members from the actual Moulin Rouge in Paris. Samantha Greenlund, an Everson, Washington, native, spent the past three years as a dancer at the Moulin Rouge, and spoke to DM the morning after the red carpet event to offer her take on the musical.
Dancers perform the can-can at the Moulin Rouge
S. Franzese, Courtesy Moulin Rouge
How was the premiere?
I loved it. I loved the choreography—the big dance numbers were the best parts. Everyone was on their feet after those. I've always loved Sonya Tayeh's style, and was curious to see how it would translate into a big production musical. Plus, I've always loved Aaron Tveit, so it was enjoyable hearing his voice live.
How did the show compare to the film?
Some of the songs in the movie aren't in the musical, and they have a lot of new, more modern songs. They fit surprisingly well. But sometimes I found myself missing the songs I know. In the movie, there are a lot of medleys, and they're in the musical as well, but with some different, updated songs.
How does it feel seeing your job of the past three years translated to Broadway?
People are going to be very surprised if they come to the Moulin Rouge in Paris and think it's the same show they've seen in the movie or on Broadway! The show in Paris is its own thing. It's a Parisian cabaret. It's about the costumes, elegance, and the French can-can. That's not what you get in the movie or musical. But the history is the same. It still has this place in your heart.
Was is it like performing in the real Moulin Rouge?
So many people grow up wanting to be in that show—it's a dream job. But my background was a bit different. As a kid, I dabbled in everything, and I went to college at Oklahoma City University, where most of my focus was on Broadway, tap and jazz. It took me a while to learn where I was going to fit in as a dancer. I'm 5'10", and showgirls are very tall, so I started getting jobs in Las Vegas. Then, I heard about cabarets in Paris, and auditioned.
B. Royer, Courtesy Moulin Rouge
What was the audition like?
Very long! It was an all-day situation. They started with a full-on technical ballet combination, and if you get through all that, they get into a more eighties, funky routine. Finally, you do the can-can. It's all in there, and they make cuts as you go.
What were the biggest challenges of the job?
I don't speak French as well as I would've liked! Fortunately, the Moulin Rouge is an English-speaking company—you're actually required to speak English, and rehearsals are taught in English. Most people working there are Australians and Brits. Physically, everyone performs six nights a week, two shows a night. As soon as the first show ends and they get the audience out, the next audience comes in and we do it all over again. The second show never starts on time!
Was the job what you expected?
I had never even been to Paris, or anywhere in Europe—and I had never seen the show! I went in blind. My first day, I went in for rehearsal and saw the show for the first time that night. Even in rehearsal, I didn't know what the show was exactly. The first week of rehearsal is just the can-can. After the first day, my legs were dead for weeks.
But the show is what I love about the French cabaret. It's very intimate in a way, with all the tables and lighting and décor. The lights come up, and it's just a sea of sparkles. I'll never forget seeing that for the first time.
There's a rare moment in Broadway's Hadestown where the audience is able to breathe a sigh of relief. The smash-hit success is not well-known for being light-hearted or easy-going; Hadestown is a show full of workers and walls and, well, the second act largely takes place in a slightly modernized version of hell.
But deep into the second act, the show reaches a brief homeostasis of peace, one of those bright, shining moments that allows the audience to think "maybe it will turn out this time," as the character Hermes keeps suggesting.
After songs and songs of conflict and resentment, Hades, the king of the underground, and his wife, the goddess Persephone, rekindle their love. And, unexpectedly, they dance. It's one of the most compelling moments in the show.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
There's always been something larger than life about choreographer Mark Morris. Of course, there are the more than 150 works he's made and that incisive musicality that makes dance critics drool. But there's also his idiosyncratic, no-apologies-offered personality, and his biting, no-holds-barred wit. And, well, his plan to keep debuting new dances even after he's dead.
So it should come as little surprise that his latest distinction is also a bit larger than life: The New York Landmarks Conservancy is adding Morris to its list of "Living Landmarks."
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.