‘Baz’ star Ginifer King really gets into her role in over-the-top production
Ginifer King has spent the last four years perfecting her role as Satine from Moulin Rouge in For the Record: Baz, the theatrical production that takes three of director Baz Luhrmann’s most famous works, Romeo + Juliet, The Great Gatsby and Rouge, mashes them together and spits them out in a glitzy production at Light Nightclub at Mandalay Bay. King talked to Las Vegas Magazine’s Susan Stapleton about how the show will be even more dramatic in the round in Las Vegas, why you should see it more than once and what she hopes the audience takes home with them.
For the Record has done other filmmakers in its series of productions, including John Hughes, Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers. Why do you think a show about Baz Luhrmann was the first For the Record to make the leap to Las Vegas?
I think just the marriage theme, the movies themselves, the soundtracks and that universal theme of star-crossed lovers appeals to audiences in a way that other shows maybe didn’t initially. Baz Luhrmann was workshopped in Los Angeles for the past few years and every time they brought it back, it’s a sold-out run in L.A. It is a hot ticket. He’s had The Great Gatsby come out in the last year or two. It’s one of those shows that people love. They love heartbreak. The thing about the Baz Luhrmann show is that you don’t necessarily have to be a fan of his films to enjoy and to understand it. It’s completely inspired by his films and his soundtracks, but it’s like a celebration of so many different things.
What are some of the new things that you got to add to the show?
We have added so many technical elements to the show that we weren’t able to do in Los Angeles. I get to fly. I’ve never gotten to fly before. It’s gorgeous. It’s so exciting to see this show that you’ve been a part of for the past four years to have a whole new life. It’s really awesome to be here and to share the show with a Vegas audience.
What do you hope people will learn about his works?
I hope that people have an appreciation that’s there’s no one interpretation to a story. You don’t have to interpret Romeo + Juliet the way [Franco] Zeffirelli did back in the ’60s. What’s so wonderful about art is that it’s constantly reinventing itself. I’m such a fan of Baz Luhrmann because he tells stories not only visually but also in his own interpretation. Our show really reflects that. People walk away with, “Wow, I never thought to see Romeo + Juliet in this number.” Or “I never thought to mash up a moment from Moulin Rouge with a moment from Romeo + Juliet with a moment from The Great Gatsby.”
Do you think this show really appeals to a younger audience?
Of course. It is visually stunning. And it’s 90 minutes of a whirlwind, star-crossed lover, “a little party never killed nobody” experience. Today’s audience has such a short attention span. Think about the things that people will respond to in here with social media and everything being so at our fingertips. Anderson Davis, our director, has done an amazing job of bringing these three main films together. You never sit in one moment for too long but you never feel like you didn’t stay there long enough. In Los Angeles, because we were cast two and three deep, I would go on nights that I wasn’t performing because it was such a wonderful experience to be a part of. We really had a huge fan base in Los Angeles. People would come every week. It’s not just a show you see once and put it to bed. It’s something you can experience over and over again.
Depending on where you sit, there’s a lot that you could miss.
For sure. For the exact mathematicians out there, it’s 270 degrees. There’s no one behind us. You want to come back and sit in a different seat because maybe the first time you came you were in the middle of a party at J. Gatsby’s house but all a sudden this other moment is happening over there and you want to be a part of that. The audience really is another character in our show, which is one of the reasons that makes our show unique. You feel as an audience member as much a part of the show because everything’s happening around you.
What excites you most about this show?
I envisioned this Vegas experience before I ever knew that it was going to go to Vegas. The very first time we did the show, we were in a little bar outside Los Angeles. There were maybe 60 seats. We got most of our costumes from a thrift store. We just got up and sang our asses off. There was so much magic and passion and chemistry going on that I thought, this is going to be something someday. People are going to want to bring this to the next level. This show fits perfectly in Vegas. It fits even more perfectly at Light nightclub. This experience is definitely made for nightclubs and nightlife. It’s a really special show and it’s telling a story in a different way. We’re not doing this in a casino theater. This is something new. What I love is that it’s marrying two things that are fantastic about Las Vegas. How do we marry movies and music and nightlife for this whole new theatrical experience? The first 20 minutes is a nonstop party. If you can remember the trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby there was the beautiful party in that beautiful house. That’s the first 20 minutes of our show. As an audience member, you’re into this party. It gets you in this wonderful spirit. It’s almost seamless to go straight into the nightclub.
You were in Gypsy on Broadway with Bernadette Peters in 2003 and then the Broadway production of Cyrano de Bergerac starring Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner. Are you finding yourself more at home doing live theater?
I feel so blessed. When I was a little girl, I said, “As long as I can walk across the Broadway stage as chorus girl number 20, I’d be happy.” I have had some of the most wonderful experiences creatively. Live theater is my passion. There’s nothing more inspiring than having that instant gratification of an audience experiencing a live show. It’s so fulfilling. I love being in the moment. You’re vibrating with excitement because what’s tonight going to be.
How familiar are you with Las Vegas?
Every day we’re getting more and more familiar. I’m definitely learning more inside scoop. As a kid, my mom and my dad saw my love for the theater and for live performance, so we would come to Vegas, we would come to New York. They wanted me to experience those theatrical or live shows as a kid. Donny and Marie weren’t playing in New York, they were playing here. One of the best concerts to this day, and I love concerts, was seeing Garth Brooks a couple years ago at the Wynn. What an entertainer and a showman. I liked Garth Brooks but I wasn’t necessarily a No. 1 fan. I thought this would be cool. And then when I realized there’s no band and it’s just him and his guitar, I thought, “This is going to be two hours of bleh.” And I was riveted. What an intimate experience. He’s an entertainer. You don’t get those experiences in other cities. Vegas is awesome for that.
Light Nightclub at Mandalay Bay, 8 p.m. Wed.-Mon., starting at $55 plus tax and fee, 21+. 800.745.3000 Ticketmaster