Local actors presenting shadow cast production of 'Moulin Rouge!'

·2 min read

LAS CRUCES - Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor and John Leguizamo will be back on the big screen in Las Cruces Saturday in the 2001 film “Moulin Rouge!” featuring a special twist by local Blank Conversations Theatre Group.

The Rio Grande Theatre will screen the much-loved film, which is set in 1899 Paris and follows the story of a love triangle between a poor young writer, a star dancer and the Duke. But beneath the movie right on the theatre’s stage will be an in-person cast of local actors shadowing the movie.

Shadow casts are popular when it comes to cult classic, campy films such as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Local audiences can find this movie featured around Halloween each year with Blank Conversations performers acting out the movie on stage as it screens.

Blank Conversations Theatre Group rehearse for their upcoming show Moulin Rouge at Rio Grande Theatre on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.
Blank Conversations Theatre Group rehearse for their upcoming show Moulin Rouge at Rio Grande Theatre on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.

Gus Sanchez, president and co-founder of Blank Conversations, said the group is interested in performing more shadow casts going forward. He said “Moulin Rouge!” was chosen this go round because of its popularity among cast members and for its chaotic feel.

“We just thought, if nothing else, it could be fun to do something just as chaotic as ‘Rocky’ but a little more accessible to people who are not fans of ‘Rocky’ or may not want that experience,” he said.

Blank Conversations Theatre Group rehearse for their upcoming show Moulin Rouge at Rio Grande Theatre on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.
Blank Conversations Theatre Group rehearse for their upcoming show Moulin Rouge at Rio Grande Theatre on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.

About 15 volunteer cast members will take to the stage Saturday. Some have worked with the company before, but others are completely new to theatre, Sanchez said.

He added that they chose the movie about two months ago, so the rehearsal period has been relatively short. Generally, actors have taken what is happening on screen and developed their own performance into a campier style.

As with “Rocky Horror,” audience members will be given a prop bag and instructions when they arrive for use during the show. One such prop is fake money that will be thrown inside the theater at the same time an actor does so in the movie. Cast members will help cue the props.

Blank Conversations Theatre Group cast Members wait backstage for the rehearsal to begin on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.
Blank Conversations Theatre Group cast Members wait backstage for the rehearsal to begin on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.

“If it's people's first time watching the film, it'll definitely add to the experience of having a shadow cast. But for people that know the film, the shadow cast will only just enhance what happens on screen,” Sanchez said.

Based on how well Saturday’s performance is, “Moulin Rouge!” may join “Rocky Horror” in their lineup of annual shadow cast performances, Sanchez said. The next production he said the company is looking to shadow cast is “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” – a musical comedy miniseries featuring Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible and Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer.

Blank Conversations Theatre Group rehearse for their upcoming show Moulin Rouge at Rio Grande Theatre on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.
Blank Conversations Theatre Group rehearse for their upcoming show Moulin Rouge at Rio Grande Theatre on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.

Tickets to see “Moulin Rouge!” are available for purchase online at www.riograndetheatre.org. Admission is $10. Doors open at 7 p.m. with the show starting at 8 p.m. The Rio Grande Theatre is located at 211 N. Main St.

Leah Romero is the trending reporter at the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, lromero@lcsun-news.com or @rromero_leah on Twitter.

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This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Local actors presenting shadow cast production of 'Moulin Rouge!'