Earlier in December I performed the role of Christian in Moulin Rouge for the press, followed by a one week preview. Harry (the company’s first hire for the role of Christian) did, too. And because my husband is the sort who thrives on competition–and wishes I was the sort who thrived on competition–Marc collected the reviews and tallied the results.
Harry was ever just so slightly for the win.
I must be honest–I was relieved. Marc scowled at me, but really, I was. Harry trained for this in life. He’s always been an actor. He’s perfect for the role and he’s still young enough, and new enough, to need the validation. I’m thrilled for him.
I’m also quite interested by the variation in our reviews. I find myself learning about what it is I did well, and what it is I’m still missing, by reading about Harry’s triumphs on the stage.
Here’s one of my favourites I thought I’d share:
EJS plays naive so well, we almost believe he’s a nobody. That makes his snap transformation into jealousy and manic anger in the second act all the more horrifyingly, wonderfully obscene. We don’t expect a man with a grin that shy to engage in a game of ownership, and the question lurking there–but is he?–cuts deep. We are touched by Christian’s grief, but uncomfortable in its oily origin. Is this the tale of music and love, or of misogyny and lust?
Harry Jensen on the other hand plays the fragile arrogance of youth all the way through. We see him falter along the way as he meets love, innuendo, and outright lies, and we watch him remake his facade over and over, overlapping versions of himself, one on the other. We see the edges ripple and shimmer in his feverish eyes and vibrating energy. We know the whole time he’s heading toward a pit, and that we can’t pull him back from the edge, as much as we want to. And you’ll want to.
So, in the end, Smith is a consummate storyteller who is more dangerous than he seems, and Harry reads like a broken poem. Both will rattle you, as the director intended, but if you can only see one, then here’s your choice: A man who loved and lost? or a man who lost his love.
This reviewer is narrowly for the latter.
It’s true–Harry is so coherent, and such a slow burn. I felt itchy the first time I watched him in the role, and he brings out a special sort of panic in Char, who plays Satine, because she can see what she’s doing to him, and what he’s doing to himself.
With me, she plays a bit more startled, a bit more reactive, perhaps a bit more truculent, which she’s told me she finds equally interesting. In fact, she said she’s enjoying having two Christians to play off of immensely, which is good.
But I will admit to the fact that my initial abrupt shift, although rewarded by the director, was a bit of a happy mistake on my part, haha. I’ve enroled in acting courses for the spring so I can make more of my happy mistakes into brilliant intentions.
Also in 2018: More auditions! I’m loving this theatre business again, I really am.
And much more, but that’s for a different post.
For the moment–a Very Happy New Year, and now I’m off to the Toronto Drag Ball with my husband.