There’s a face you’ll likely make when you see Magic Mike Live for the first time. “Eyes glazed, jaw dropped,” is how cast member Brian Siregar describes it. It’s a face both Siregar and co-star Ned Zaina actually want to see when performing. They’ll even egg each other on, and try to hype you up – in a completely consensual way, of course. Above all, the Magic Mike Live team wants you to have a good time.
“We get both ends of the spectrum; we get the “Woo!”, we get the shock, we get the “Oh, I don’t know where I’m meant to look” kind of stuff,” says Zaina. “[As dancers] we just have to be present and engage and try not to gloss over. We want everyone to have the experience that they came to get.”
The “experience” of Magic Mike Live, while shrouded in some secrecy (we know there will be dancing, hot men and the obligatory Ginuwine floor grinding), is a dance extravaganza based on the popular Magic Mike films from 2012 and 2015. When it launches in Melbourne in June, fit men (and some women) will be performing for 600 people per night inside a purpose-built Spiegeltent called the Arcadia, erected on Birrarung Marr.
This Australian tour was supposed to launch in Melbourne in the middle of 2020, however, it was pushed back and eventually launched in Sydney back in December. Our reviewer up in Sydney called it “an absolute hoot” but was quick to reassure us that we shouldn’t come in expecting a musical version of the films. Instead, be prepared for a woke update of the classic male strip show.
Rather than provide pure raunch, a thread runs through the entire show about how, as women, we deserve to feel appreciated and empowered. While movie star Channing Tatum’s name might be smeared all over the advertising material (and it’s his IRL undressing escapades that inspired the films) this is a show made by women. Tatum teamed up with the movies’ choreographers Allison Faulk and Teresa Espinosa to develop a cabaret-like strip show that’s been made with the female gaze in mind.
"It’s not just for women. We have men coming to the show – even a straight demographic of men."
“This style of show, especially what the idea of the show is about, has only been portrayed from a male’s point of view for such a long time,” says Zaina. “What has happened in the past is men saying what they think women want and not necessarily asking women what they want. We really wanted to see it from the other point of view and see what women actually wanted to see, as well as the LGBTQ+ community. We want everyone to come and feel welcome.”
With advertising lines like “don’t come for the costumes” printed all over Melbourne’s trams and buildings, it would seem like horny women are the target demographic. But Zaina wants everyone to watch the show: “It’s not just [for] women. We have men coming to the show – even a straight demographic of men that bring their partners, or even come on their own. There’s boys coming to the show and supporting the boys. And why not? If you’re open-minded and ready to have a fun time.”
The tent is set up to have a stage right in the centre, so it’s a 360-degree show for the performers but expect some little surprises along the way. “We’ve got like, little secret holes [around the tent] where you’ll be like, “What!” and then you’ll have a boy just coming from every direction,” says Zaina. Throughout the show, we’ll be able to see each performer’s special skill, whether that be tap dancing, singing, drumming… Clearly, there’s a lot of talent on this stage.
Originally from Colorado, Siregar studied dance at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and has worked with Snoop Dogg and Paula Abdul before performing in the original London cast of Magic Mike Live. Zaina, who’s from Melbourne, is classically trained in ballet and has performed for Opera Australia, as well as in Bring it On: the Musical and the Dirty Dancing Immersive Cinema in 2019.
All his friends and family live here, so he’s pretty excited for them to finally see the show. Yes, even his parents. “There’s nothing about the show that I’m embarrassed about or scared about because it is such a phenomenal show. I don’t think people fully understand the show until you see it.”
“I feel like sexuality, especially over the last 12 months, has been kind of put on the back burner. So this is a really great experience for people to come in and then be in a safe enough environment where they can get what they want – and then to happily ask for what they need.”
As Siregar reminds us, “the slogan of the show is “you can have anything you want.” Anything we want? “All you’ve gotta do is ask!”