'Moulin Rouge' Is Spectacular On Stage

'Moulin Rouge' Is Spectacular On Stage

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." -Moulin Rouge

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Baz Luhrmann's epic and tragic "Moulin Rouge" has maintained a spot on my list of favorite films for quite some time. When I learned that a stage production was being produced, I was ecstatic. I had been hoping for a stage version for years! I just traveled to Boston to see the pre-Broadway production for myself. I had no idea that I was about to completely immerse myself in an extravagant theatrical experience that could only be appropriate for a show such as "Moulin Rouge."

When I walked into the historic Emerson Colonial theatre, I realized that I hadn't thought too much about what to expect from the show. I was hoping that the production would maintain the integrity of the film, but I just knew that the acting quality was going to be exceptional. I already knew that Aaron Tveit (Christian) and Karen Olivo (Satine) are masters of their craft, and they did not disappoint. Danny Burstein (Harold Zidler), Sahr Ngaujah (Toulouse-Lautrec), Tam Mutu (the Duke), Ricky Rojas (Santiago), Robyn Hurder (Nini), and the rest of the cast bring a life and energy to the show, unlike anything I'd ever seen. Sonya Tayeh's choreography is also a sight to behold and a highlight of the production- it's tasteful, sexy, in-your-face, and graceful all at the same time.

Tveit portrays Christian with all the wonder, hope, purity, sensitivity, and passion that you hope the character will have. Audiences will certainly fall in love with Tveit's Christian who embodies the ideals of freedom, beauty, truth, and love without being overdramatic. Olivo's Satine is nothing short of a powerhouse. Olivo brings a whimsical feel and streak to Satine while also demonstrating the inner strength she must have to do her job. Christian and Satine are still easy to root for, and the audience feels a nostalgia while watching the characters be freshly brought to life in the world of the Moulin Rouge.

I walked into the theatre and immediately felt like I was at the Moulin Rouge. Justin Townsend's lights, Derek McLane's set, the atmosphere, performers already entertaining, and the Moulin Rouge sign as a focal point instantly put me in the world and mindset of the show. The stunning set was second to none. The beginning of the show absolutely got off on the right foot with a moment for the audience to connect with Christian leading into "Lady Marmalade". The exposition of the entire story was essential to the success of the story, and I think it was done with care and intelligent choices. Introduction of characters and letting the story unfold just worked for the stage. The pacing of the show was well-done, and the plot remains fairly similar to the film.

As a fan of the film, there are changes I adored and changes I disagreed with. I think the musical falls short mostly related to elements of Satine's character and the dramatic ending. Satine's character differs in the musical in the sense that there is a missed chance to really explore who she is or what she wants as an individual. Satine's primary motivation for her actions seems to be protecting her "sisters" at the Moulin Rouge and saving the production. There is still the point of her wanting Christian's words to be heard, but it's much less about her wanting to become an actress and having her own ambitions. Olivo still played her brilliantly, but it's more of a different focus. I think her sickness was also not set up extremely well and sort of seemed random by the time the audience is reminded of it later. I think the ending fell a little flat due in part to this, and I wish the way the very ending played out with Christian and Satine led me to have more tears in my eyes.

I really enjoyed most of the new modern music infused into the score and the way it was merged with the music used in the film. Some of the song choices weren't as timeless as I would've liked them to be, but overall I think most of the choices work for the story and in making it accessible to a modern audience. I thought Christian's character was refreshed well and still teaches the audience, with the help of Toulouse, the important lesson that "the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return".

It would seem that all roads lead to Broadway for this cast and crew. I'm looking forward to seeing how the production plays in New York.

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A Letter To My Dancers

Everything your dance teacher wants you to know.
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When anyone (especially a child) chooses to invest their time, talent, and passion into dancing, it's nothing to take lightly. These kids spend more time with me at the studio than they do at home with their parents. Before long, they're my "kids," too. When I only have an hour to lead a warm-up, teach choreography, and rehearse a number, there isn't much time to express the thoughts and feelings I'd necessarily like to. Being a dance teacher is the most spectacular and rewarding job - and I want my students to know that. Between the great rehearsals and the frustrating ones, the competitions and recitals, and the endless hours we spend together each week, there are just a few reminders I need to share with them.

Dear Dancers,

Please love yourself and love what you do with every ounce of your being. Do it with so much passion that your heart wants to burst. Dance is the most special thing; it's something we are privileged and lucky to have, so don't take it for granted.

Please believe in yourself. You are worthy. You are talented. You are strong and capable of everything you set your mind to. Strive to be the best version of yourself every day, not the reflection of the girl next to you. Dance like you. Move like you. Experiment and find what makes you, you. Be an individual. Trust me when I say I don't want 20 carbon-copied robots. I want you.

Trust that I have your best interest in mind. Sometimes my choices and decisions won't make sense, you might be confused, hurt or frustrated, but keep the faith that I'm on your side. I don't want to see you fail, and I'll do everything in my power to help you find the success you're looking for.

I want you to succeed, but for me to do that, you need to tell me what you need. Do you need the counts again? Do you need me to review the transition to floor one more time? If you understand, tell me. If you don't, tell me that, too. Be vocal, be present, be smart, and be prepared. Practice on the sides. Pay attention to the small details. Ask questions. Don't be late, and definitely don't forget your choreography. Take responsibility for your responsibilities and lead by example. Do you have any remote idea how many children look up to you? Who want to be just like you someday? Dance just like you? Kids watch, listen, and copy. Make sure the behaviors you're teaching them are behaviors you're proud of.

Make memories with your dance family while you still can. Cherish every 9 a.m. Saturday morning rehearsal, every competition you attend, every fundraising event, and every team sleepover. It'll be gone so fast. You're going to miss these days. Please, enjoy them.

Don't compare yourself to other dancers. You are you, and nobody can do "you" better than yourself. Don't wish away your abilities by secretly wishing you had Suzie's feet, Betsy's port de bras, or Charlie's center. The only thing you need to worry about is being a better version of yourself than you were the day before. You are your only competition, so don't be too hard on yourself. Be kind to your mind and body. You work day in and day out to perfect your craft and artistry. You work to mold and create yourself. You'll be rewarded with time if you keep fighting and don't give up. Usually when you want to throw in the towel, it's after you don't get the part you wanted or you don't make the team you hoped to. What you need to understand is the answer isn't "No," the answer is "Not yet." You know you're trying and working hard, and those efforts don't go unnoticed -- even if it seems they are.

Please, remember that it's not going to always be fair. You're going to be let down, and you're going to feel disappointed from time to time. You're not always going to win the trophy. You're not always going to get the featured solo part, and not everyone can be the front row and center dancer. This doesn't mean you're "bad" and this doesn't mean you're not "meant" to dance either.

Quite frankly, it's just how it works, you guys. It doesn't mean I don't like you, and it doesn't mean the dancer who does have the solo is my favorite. The dancer just might be more talented. Yeah, I said it. They might have better lines, straighter knees, or stronger stage presence, and that is entirely okay. You're going to run into this for the rest of your adult life. Someone is going to be smarter, more qualified, more desirable for a particular job or position. So instead of despising and resenting these dancers (and especially me), try to learn from them instead. You'll learn more from each other than you could imagine. But if you take away one thing from this, know that you are still worthy of my best training, my best analogies, my best choreography -- whether you are featured, in the third row, or even off-stage for the turn section.

As your teacher, it's my job to teach. Learning (and learning correctly) requires close attention to detail, incredible focus, and a plethora of corrections on my part. Yes, I will go out of my way to critique you, and I will continually tell you what needs fixing until it's fixed. I might have to tell you over and over and over again. And you know, I might even get frustrated with you once in awhile because of it, but here's what you need to understand: This doesn't make me mean or a bad teacher. This doesn't mean I hate you. What it does mean is that I see potential in you and I want to help. I just have to ask, do you see what I see in you? Do you see the talent and abilities I see?

Corrections are good. Success is an incredibly long and never ending process that takes time, but the corrections I give you are helping you get one step closer. So next time you catch yourself getting upset about receiving the same critique week after week or you want to complain about how mean I am, please remember that my intent is not malicious. I'm doing my job.

It's also my job to instill perseverance, dedication, discipline, trust, humility, confidence, creativity, bravery, and strong work ethic into you. I want to push your limits. Test you. Challenge you. I want to mold you into the person you want to be. Even though you probably don't even know who that person is, I do.

There are so many possibilities, opportunities, and challenges that are out there once you enter the world of adulthood. The dance world is so much bigger than your studio, competition routines, and conventions. At the end of the day, no one remembers or cares (especially your future employers) if you won a quadruple diamond platinum plus on your lyrical solo in 2016. They don't care about your first place overall at Showbiz. They don't care if you're Teen Miss Winner of the World. They don't care. What people do care about is your character, your heart, and how you made them feel.

Dancers, I will always support you. Whether you want to pursue a professional dance career in Los Angeles or New York City, in a company overseas, on your college dance team, I will support you. Whether you want to teach dance or choreograph locally in town, I will support you. Whether you don't want to dance at all and maybe be an engineer or a cosmetologist, I will support you. I will always fuel your dreams, goals, and desires, no matter where they'll take you.

I love you and I'm proud of you.

Sincerely,

Your Dance Teacher


Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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8 Old Katelyn Tarver Songs You Probably Haven't Heard

None of her new songs will ever go as hard as "Chasing Echoes" and that's a fact.

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Years ago, I found (through iTunes recommendations) a pretty cool female artist. Later found out she was on "Big Time Rush", and then I found out she had some new songs out. I decided to give her new songs a listen, and they're good. However, I prefer some of her older stuff, which sadly isn't on Spotify. Fortunately, YouTube exists, and I'm here to share the best ones.


1. "Wonderful Crazy"

This is just a fun, upbeat song for when you're having a good day. Would recommend playing in your car with the windows rolled down.

2. "Rain"

I have a very specific memory of a time when this song blessed my life, but for all intents and purposes, it is a beautiful and happy song.

3. "I'll Make It Real"

This is a beautiful song with a wonderful message about staying true to yourself. I used to listen to it on the way to school every day my senior year of high school.

4. "Something In Me"

Featured in the greatest show of all time, "South of Nowhere" season 1 episode 6. A very relatable breakup mood.

5. "Love Alone"

This is definitely the second-hardest-hitting song she's ever released. The fact that this is not on Spotify or even iTunes anymore is just not fair.

6. "Favorite Girl"

This one's cute and upbeat, a definite crush mood. Not on the same level as "Love Alone", but it's still underrated.

7. "Closer to My Heart"

Another cute love song. I'll tie it with "Everything" for cutest love song on her first album. Highly recommend both.

8. "Chasing Echoes"

Facts are facts and the facts are that Katelyn Tarver's new stuff could never go as hard as "Chasing Echoes". I can't even begin to explain how deeply these lyrics cut through me when I was fifteen. Even now, this song can take me all the way back. She is robbing us by not making this available on streaming services (or even to purchase). Katelyn, bring this song back, I am begging you.

Anyway, I'm still enjoying the new stuff and am excited to see what's next.

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