Meet the Bohemians: David, Emma & Fabian

By Sally Clark |

In Moulin Rouge! The Musical, the characters on stage are bold and brash and passionately bohemian – so unique in a way that transcends their talent alone and defies the usual theatre manifestations of a gendered ensemble. And that was achieved by giving them the liscence to develop their own unfettered personas from the outset, and by referring to them as either “Skirts” or “Tails” – so there were no parameters around the embodiment of how each artist should develop their role/s.

The folk this story focuses on are Fabian Andrés, Emma Russell and David Sirianni – all twentysomethings – who have already committed a lifetime (at least in other realms) to perfecting their skills as artisans of musical theatre. Fabian confesses his first commitment was to singing, Emma devoted herself to ballet and David loved to dance – but they all discovered that their whole self was only really engaged when given the opportunity to exercise their performance capacities as a Triple Threat (Actor. Singer. Dancer). But what drew them to the universe of the Moulin Rouge and what are they discovering most engages them or brings them pleasure whilst here?

Emma Russell, a member of the Skirts ensemble, shares a little bit about the beginning of her journey to be here: “Initially, I never saw myself in this show. I just didn’t see it. And then when I started auditioning, and going through the audition period, I was like… “Actually – no! I can see myself in this show!” It’s a dance-heavy show and it’s nice to be able to showcase what you can actually do, and what you have trained for. It’s the iconic show that everyone wants to be a part of, and everyone wants to come and see the costumes, the set – it’s just a beautiful piece of theatre that we are so lucky to be a part of.”

Fabian Andrés – one of the Tails ensemble – adds his perspective: “I found that I wanted the job more and more as each audition week went by. The choreography got better, and you got to meet more people, and also be a part of something that is a phenomenon.”

David Sirianni – who is Co-Dance Captain/Swing (tasked with keeping the essence of Sonya Tayeh’s Tony-Award winning choreography at its most engaging, whilst also being on call to cover all the Tails roles) tells that his motivation was the “epicness of the show”. He continues, “When I was auditioning my understanding was that it was a huge show, and I’ve always wanted to be the smallest fish in the biggest pond, so that was what drew me to the project. It is a very dance-heavy show and for me personally it had been a while since I’d felt like I’d really been given the chance to fully dance to my maximum capacity, on stage, and I can absolutely say (insert a cheeky chuckle from him) that we are getting to do that with this show!”

So now that David confesses this show has provided the opportunity to fully harness all that dance training, I ask if there is a part of the show that he enjoys more than another? Interestingly enough, his response is less about the choreography and more about the reaction of the audience to what is being performed on stage. He answers the question by sharing an experience that had happened two days previously. “Our Skirts chorus are kicking their legs all around the stage. (When) I witnessed this young girl in the front row just losing her mind – literally gasping for air – watching Emma, Scout, and the other cast kicking their legs at the front.” He continues, “The energy that the show starts at is so infectious that as a Patron (the Tails ensemble portray these at the start of the show to further blur the line between audience and performers) you get to see the people in the Can Can seats, (reserved for an audience who have paid a premium to be truly amidst the action) in the first few rows, really enjoy that – and people are just kind of in disbelief. They are seeing skirts fly around everywhere. I know that there are many moments just like that in the show but I think that right at that very moment the audience is like “Whoa! Here we go! This is what we are in for.” – and it’s a real treat to witness. It’s especially wonderful as a Co-Dance Captain/Swing. I’m so proud of the cast. And, so, when I’m there I feel that I’m appreciating the wonderful work that this ensemble is doing and then I also get to see other people like the audience taking it all in.”

For Emma there is a similar allure to feeling you are sharing the experience with the audience as it unfolds – “It’s so special that the show is quite interactive. I’ve never felt like I could see the audience’s faces before. The way the passerelle (a small catwalk that extends from one side of the stage to the other) is set out from the stage means you feel you are absolutely amongst the audience and can see their reactions.”  But that isn’t all she enjoys about the show. She continues, “It is so special doing the bow at the end of the show where you can just feel the love from the audience. (Sometimes) you can just see people wiping the tears from their eyes as well, in some moments when we are singing, which is pretty special.” Fabian confirms that his favourite moment also comes at the end of the show, and from the audience. He relates – “For me it would have to be the, Encore, especially on the nights when everyone in the audience stands up and has a cheer. It puts a smile on my face. Just seeing how much the audience has enjoyed that show is very heart-warming and it’s the reason why you want to go again, the next day, and the next day.”

So, if the evolution of this show encouraged every artist to work beyond their preconceived parameters how has that played out for each? David keenly offers his response: “As a Swing you are always pushed and always challenged, but for me this show is really stretching me in so many different directions and I’m doing a lot of things I never thought I would get to do. It’s having the confidence to know I’m capable of doing things I never thought I could do.” Emma agrees and tells, “I feel the same. I’m so proud of myself for being able to do this. It’s the most challenging show I have ever done!”

For Fabian the growth he feels is beyond his own performance. He offers, “When you are onstage – and you look to the left or to the right of you – and see the people that you are working with you know you have such a strong support within the cast: everyone is right there for each other and right next to each other the whole time, which also puts a smile on your face. Whatever it is, everyone is there together and are really supportive. I’ve never worked with a cast that are as supportive as this one.”

And there we have it. This cast isn’t just pretending to be a community to manifest the Bohemian energy of the piece: through not defining limits on the characters they’ve been able to find an essence within themselves that better connects them to show, and each other. And, that connection is palpable for the audience, and why they are adoring the experience all these artists create for them within the Moulin Rouge universe.