Michael Sanders - Queen of the Whole Universe

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[00:00:00] This podcast is brought to you by the queen of the whole universe Charitable Trust of in Toronto in pride in z.com. [00:00:09] I was actually at the time choreographing Miss World New Zealand and creamed. gave my name's Jonathan who got in touch with me. And he brought me into, and choreograph the first show, previous show the number and that's how I got involved. And I'm still here 10 years later. [00:00:31] Before we get to that first show, and the queen of the whole Universe pageant, can you paint or describe to me? What goes into choreographing something like Miss World? New Zealand? [00:00:43] Yes. [00:00:45] Basically, I get this will do something I haven't haven't done for a few years. But I used to do it. And so he's choosing it. Damn right. Get the girls a week before the show. And speaking a week with them. [00:01:02] Fine tuning them into a dance routine? A couple dance routines. So [00:01:07] yeah, it was a lot of fun. But that's very different from what I'm doing now. So [00:01:12] the experience level of the girls and that kind of pageant. What was it was various, [00:01:19] very, very much various, some head to head dance chain, some hadn't. So you had to sort of on the first day, I would sort of try and push them a little bit and see where the talent lies and used as likely the whole universe really. But see where the talent is. And and and what's my last denominators because you should always choreograph to your last denominator. [00:01:48] And when you say choreographed, what does that actually encompass? What are the limits of the choreography is it in the way people are moving as the white sage on the stage [00:01:57] is set when they see on stage by the movie? [00:02:01] dance steps that you teach them? [00:02:04] dive on lock, I guess. And Jonathan, Jonathan, and I often talk about what he wants to look like. I mean, I go from the same. [00:02:15] I was interested to know, in you describing the New Zealand choreography, how different betters to what happens with Queen of the whole universe. [00:02:27] And we have a little bit more time [00:02:30] with the whole universe and not much different. Probably you can take a few more liberties clean the whole universe whereas was using you can't really take the Mickey out of out the gills. We're as we can. Part of Queen of the whole universe as the comedy. [00:02:51] That's [00:02:52] a fun thing. And and we are as the Miss World New Zealand, do they have a serious [00:02:58] business? So they all want to win [00:03:02] the crown and go Gotham as well. So it's it's very different. Very different. [00:03:07] So you so when Jonathan first approached you for that first pageant, what were your thoughts? [00:03:12] I mean, yeah. [00:03:14] Love to banter. It's something exciting. Something different. Yeah, I think it was a mutual thing that we both sort of approached each other almost. Can you recall the [00:03:28] types of choreography that you were [00:03:29] Yeah, Yeah, we did. [00:03:32] I am what I am as the number. I think all of us who are involved with it will remember this. And it was an amazing, amazing experience on the on the actual night. But we had so I have so much fun, so much fun. And everybody gave it a go. And [00:03:52] it was just a magical experience. [00:03:56] Can you recall the first rehearsals for that first pageant? We're your presented with a whole lot of people with a whole lot of different abilities? [00:04:05] I guess, because I'm involved in musical theater. And I, I'm used to sort of people have different abilities coming along. So yeah, there were a few times where we tore out here out and But on the whole, it was just the experience was just such a wonderful one, that that either all the everything else. And you know, it's not about being perfect dancer, or all the number. It's about having having a fan and getting the message out there. But can you [00:04:41] talk a wee bit more about the you mentioned? Corey Griffin, to the lowest common denominator? Can you explain that a bit more? [00:04:50] Yeah, well, you, when I do a show, [00:04:54] I have various degrees of Dance Dance ability, I'm actually the people that are dancing. So you've got, you've got people who have done ballet or have done hip hop or jazz or tab, but you also have people who have come in off the street who have never done anything. So you've got to, you can't expect everybody to know what to play years or, you know, as you tail, or caliber. And you know, they'll all go look at here and go to know what you're talking about that. So you have to pull it back to what you would think people would know, as common language and, and, and work that way. Mmm. Then actually sort of push them a little bit. And over the years, you know, the guys who have been in over 10 years, they all have progressed along the five of the time. So yeah, [00:05:57] you must have to be quite skilled at not intimidating people. If people aren't dancers and to actually try and coax them into choreographed steps. Yeah, [00:06:08] I think I think you have to be patient. Patience is a virtue. And [00:06:14] it's one that you really need something like this. [00:06:17] You mentioned the I am what I am opening number for the first pageant. Why was it so special? [00:06:26] I think I am. And I, for me, [00:06:30] it's always been a bit of an anthem for for me personally. And if you listen to the words of I am when I it is such an amazing thing saying well, you know, this is who I am. And if you don't like it, I'll help you sort of thing. So that, yes, that's definitely been something special for me. And but it is sort of it is sort of a [00:06:54] guy anthem. Really? Were you there on opening night on that first night? Yeah. And what was the audience reaction? [00:07:00] Amazing, just amazing. Very much like the Miss World you Zealand actually, when when the curtain goes up on this world, New Zealand, the world is just goes nuts and the girls type and can't manage to hear the music. And I I tell them every time I used to tell them that every time but that was the support [00:07:19] that was there and the audience was just throwing [00:07:23] and it just continues through. [00:07:27] We just it's for come from we Why do you think the audience is so behind it? [00:07:33] I think it's something that is doing something some good in the community. [00:07:41] But it's it is fun. It all comes back to [00:07:44] fun, doesn't it? So um, it's Yeah, I think everybody's here to have a good time. [00:07:51] For me, it's it's being the camaraderie that I've got. meet lots of people that I wouldn't non for [00:08:02] love with with Jonathan and Kevin and [00:08:07] the guys that have been near whole for the it's just like a reunion every time we get together. So it's just [00:08:14] it's just been a wonderful experience for me personally. [00:08:17] Can you describe Jonathan's directing style? What's he like, as a director? [00:08:22] He knows what he wants. [00:08:25] He knows how to kids. [00:08:32] He He's kind and gentle with people sometimes can be harsh, but sometimes you have to be so [00:08:41] I've picked up from some of the other interviews that a lot of it is about participation. And so it's open to anyone. Yes. Gender sexuality. And it's about the participation. [00:08:52] Yeah. Yeah, I remember the very first one. And there was a guy in there who was adamant by thinking I, I think I've got myself right. I think he was a biker gang, or had been in a biking game. And somebody that he knew had died of AIDS, and he came into the, into the patient, and it was, you looked at him? And he went, Okay, what are you doing here? But he actually was the nicest, nicest person and and was there for, [00:09:23] you know, that support? [00:09:26] Do you think is it kind of a typical participant? [00:09:29] Definitely not. Definitely not? [00:09:33] No, definitely not. There's, there's people from all sorts of walks and lives. [00:09:39] You know, definitely not. [00:09:42] With that broad cross section of, of participants, what are the biggest issues for you as a choreographer, [00:09:52] just making sure that everybody is saying this, that's really important that you don't hide somebody in the back, right? Know that they all get a chance to be front and center, so to speak. So you've got to make sure that everybody gets [00:10:10] good times and as bad as so to speak. [00:10:14] It's really important that all those people get a chance to be [00:10:19] at the front, [00:10:20] at some stage during the routine. So [00:10:23] that is one one thing that I'm really [00:10:28] quite intent on. And I do that, and my other choreography work. [00:10:36] Because we're all all there for the [00:10:37] same reason. So [00:10:40] I his skill set again, [00:10:43] he does [00:10:45] put boundaries, so we can't have anybody doing high kicks and splits when you you know, in his 50s and 60s, you know, [00:10:52] although some would drive. [00:10:56] So yeah, there are limitations, but but we can work with Yeah. [00:11:01] You know, when I do a show, I say to my cast, that we're a family and and as has become very much. So a family sort of situation, where as we've got all the ones that have been able to 18 years is that, you know, it's a real family feeling towards. [00:11:18] So for people that have been there for a length of time, can you see a progression in? Like, for instance, the confidence or the way they move? [00:11:27] or? Yeah, yeah, definitely, definitely. Trigger who last interview, he sent me some really good lesson the first year, you know, he wasn't that nice, really faith, but he got it. I mean, and he's just gone on leaps and bounds every year. You know, and, and just the difference in performance, you know, you can see from where he was 10 years ago to where he is now, and is a couple of others that are like this, you know, they they know, they know, hello, perform now, you know, the performance from Jonathan and myself and all the other characters that have come through, on the way [00:12:08] other any others that you can think of that that have developed and some of the one [00:12:13] I think over the years it has developed, because I mean, the act to viewers, give them here have from the very first one that that caliber has just gone up and up and up and not the every year. [00:12:26] And I think that's pushed people to [00:12:30] and it's people who have, you know, gone on to try and internet to go Who, possibly 10 years ago wouldn't even think about, you know, so it's been interesting to see that. So, [00:12:42] so for you, when you're choreographing? What do you start with? What What idea? Where does that come from? [00:12:50] Jonathan, I talk about it, he'll give me a piece of music. I'm a bit of an organic choreographer, so it sort of happens. So it just happened as we go. And I don't I tend to plan where people are going, but not what the steps are. So sometimes, but it just sort of grows and and I grow up that way. So [00:13:15] I have [00:13:16] in my mind, pictures [00:13:20] of what I want to say. [00:13:23] Am I right in thinking that the last Queen of the whole universe, you there was something like about 40 or 50? people on stage? [00:13:30] Yes, yes. Yeah. [00:13:33] What a lot of people [00:13:34] Yeah, I was gonna say what, what does that like to choreograph 40 or 50 people? Well, [00:13:41] let me say, the [00:13:43] first couple of years when it was, you know, fairly, so was really good, because nobody knew each channel, but everybody knows each other now. So it's very noisy. For a start, they like to talk about themselves a lot. [00:13:57] So that can be frustrating, and it takes a little bit more time. [00:14:01] But, you know, if people help each other, it's a real, you know, I get to the family thing, it's a real family that we all they are helping each other. So you know, it works that way. So if somebody's looking to escape, then if I can help them on busy off doing something, somebody else will be helping them. So it's, it's great, [00:14:24] you know, really interested in the production process of the patient. And I'm just wondering, can you describe for me what a typical rehearsal would be like, [00:14:37] to whistle, we would start with a warm up, and just keep bodies moving, Kevin usually does let me know leave a hand out to me or the avocado, depending on what we're doing. From the start, we, we build, like, as a car, I build six, and that being sort of put together. So you'll, I'll give them a little few steps, and then I'll add on and then I'll add on a little bit more, and then I'll go back to the beginning and you know, a little bit more. And [00:15:11] so it sort of starts a very much. [00:15:17] You know, it just grows. As I say organic, he grows and, and in at the end of our rehearsal, they might have finished a third or half the routine and and then surprised, you know, it's quite a surprise that they realize it, how far they've got [00:15:37] in a cup of tea, [00:15:40] I need to lie down off of it, and then usually give, Jonathan will take over. And we might do the heat give nations putting it to give them something. So we don't solely concentrate on one whole aspect of the show, we will move through all the different aspects. And his. [00:16:01] And in the point where you're getting from rehearsal into the theater, can you describe to me what moving from his face to face was like? [00:16:12] It could be tricky, but it hasn't really been. Because you're working two different spaces. So [00:16:21] your rehearsal room as a decision, as in space, of course. And then you go into the theater, which can be you can have more space, or maybe less space at times, that that can be kind of tricky. But you didn't need to go through and say right, go to your face positions, check where you are. Right? You're happy there, right? Let's go to the second position. So you do a positional rehearsal, where they just go from position to position just to make sure that they know where they are. Because it's whole different looking at the wall, they're looking at our whole other states, too. So when you in a hole for six weeks, you actually know your places that you have to be or hopefully, and then when you get into a theater throws you off, because you haven't got your usual points of focus. [00:17:12] So that that can be a problem. [00:17:16] And of course, lighting, any lighting sounds whole different, makes a whole different atmosphere. [00:17:23] So what do you tell people when they don't have point of focus? How do you tell them it will be on the stage? [00:17:29] Now you you dive in, pinpoint the rise of the seats, and I say to them, Well, you know, you know, I'll be so you might be two seats and from the aisle or something like that, you know, just just an he'd go fro and working out and people do it. Most people do. And some people need a little bit of help. But [00:17:49] that can be an issue sometimes. [00:17:52] And we seem to always must know his interests. So that there's always a central point and even routine. So you don't have, say four people on that side and 16 on that side. Like it starts at night. So [00:18:09] I mentioned, moving into a theater can also be quite stressful, because you're suddenly dealing with lighting and sound. [00:18:15] Yeah, which, which is what Jonathan deals with. So [00:18:19] once we get into the theater, he sort of moves on to that technical issue, and you have to be patient, you have to be really patient because these, we've been doing that for six weeks. Whereas the typical people, I've only just got the music and only got the lighting, you know that they only know from what they've been told that day what's happening. So you have to be patient. And just go with the flow and don't give up sees if we have to stay in the for 20 minutes while they fix something, which doesn't usually happen but it can do it you just have to be patient. That's very important. [00:19:00] Is the choreographer Do you have much say in terms of what people are wearing? And kind of lighting design? Like? [00:19:07] No, Jonathan does with it. [00:19:09] So how would you describe your relationship with Jonathan? [00:19:13] We went really well to give I think, he tells me what he wants I tell him what he's getting in return for their [00:19:21] we have a we have a very funny relationship. I think [00:19:25] when we're doing when, when it's all been put together and well in the past and is not going to happen. Because I'm not doing currently but [00:19:37] be under [00:19:38] understand the schools going on between us. You know, we have like a little jive with each other every now and then. have a bit of a laugh. But you know, we work very well together. [00:19:49] And so this upcoming pageant, the 10th. One, you're going to be a contestant? Yes. This is not the first time you've been a contestant [00:19:58] No, I've been conditioned twice for [00:20:00] and what is that? Like? What's the difference between that and being choreographer? [00:20:06] very different because you have to be one of the girls as well. [00:20:11] But just so you're one of the team, whereas you can't be when you carve how you're late, you're leading? Which role do you prefer more? People will [00:20:22] say that I'm a control freak, so probably the choreography. But I do enjoy being on stage I love being onstage and and, and and this is really different and fun. [00:20:34] So what was it like the first time that you're actually a contestant with the queen of the whole universe? Can you remember that? [00:20:39] scary as hell? [00:20:41] scary as hell. The whole different ballgame. [00:20:46] When you're in a show, you're given a script. And you're playing a character. And yes, we are playing characters, but there is a little bit of ourselves and, and the pace we portray and we have to make it available. It's very much like we did Ladies Night The second loosen up to they. At the end of the show, we used to do a monologue Gavin used to do a monologue and drink and the second time the director said to me all you can right there. And I we are thought you know, let's have and it's a little bit like there is what the whole thing is your create creation so as an act to girl it, you have to create your character, your persona, [00:21:31] your put together your your routine. So yeah, it can be quite scary. [00:21:40] So who were you on the first time [00:21:42] this time it was Australia [00:21:45] on Skippy da mo [00:21:49] and I did a tribute to Peter Allen, who had [00:21:54] obviously he died of AIDS. And so I put those two things Steve ended [00:22:00] my tribute to the tribute to him. And the rain [00:22:06] was about wait because I use this song I go to Rio which was a [00:22:10] Peter Allen song but didn't really relate to Australia, but related to him and I still called Australia home was a song that I used also. And then I went into absolutely everybody which is a bit of an ant farm in Australia so [00:22:25] I tried to tie them up together [00:22:27] in terms of garments and heat race what what what did you have going on? [00:22:31] Oh, I can't remember I rescued and a blouse for the first for the number and then I stripped off on the header course that underneath. [00:22:43] Yeah, so it was but showed you early. Who show you how [00:22:49] far out do you have to start thinking about kind of garments and hit riffs and music before performance? [00:22:57] I like I've already put together my music for Sweden, which is what two months ago I put it together and with massage and Tina which was pretty much a no brainer because a guy musical theatre Evita that the whole of Eva Peron thing. So I put that together, probably about six to eight weeks before the show. It was on No, actually longer than that. But definitely I knew what I was doing. I knew I had the whole concept in my head of what I was doing and how do you [00:23:34] what do you find the most exciting part of of the queen of the whole universe for you, as a contestant. [00:23:43] There's nothing better than the curtain coming up at the very start of the show. And the roar of the crowd is just just mind blowing. And yeah, that's, that's probably the best part and the camaraderie that you get from everybody as is this really special. [00:24:03] On the day of the performance, are you kind of tense university? [00:24:10] Here I am a little bit nervous. [00:24:13] Because you never know what can go wrong. [00:24:17] And I think this is a good thing. And when you're performing, if you don't have nerves in [00:24:24] it doesn't drive you to get better. But [00:24:28] yeah, I am slightly nervous. Probably smoke more than I probably should. [00:24:36] And can you talk to me about the the transformation from you, and every day closing to even the session Tina, or Australia? [00:24:49] Argentina I had a makeup artist come in and and help me so she did my makeup for me. I hope I got the wig. So as soon as you start putting the makeup on in the week, come you start to become another character. I mean, then, of course the clothing all helps. So [00:25:08] it is. [00:25:11] Yeah, it's really important. clothing is quite an important thing for your character in your character. Right. And, and I guess, really Today was a woman from a man and that's really important. But yeah, it is a sort of a show is make you walk like a woman sometimes. But you know, that's the whole transformation. Over the couple of hours it takes you to do the makeup and everything. [00:25:44] What amazing. Do you find there's a moment where you mentally switch from yourself to this other person. [00:25:55] Not really, not really I like his [00:26:00] like any actor, I when I go on stage that becomes I become the other person and then when I come offstage on victim, they may or they some actors, you know, they get into themselves and, and, and become this whole person right from the start. Start, you know, I came to sort of, I can be me back to me very easily. [00:26:24] So we get to Showtime. What are some highlights for you? What what are some of the things that you can remember? [00:26:31] Just some of the two girls have been spectacular. I remember the very first the Russia, Russia who won very first year, just outstanding, you know, and and as we've gone through the years, they've got even more and more extravagantly outstanding, you know, the Miss France last. Last time I've logged in here was just incredible costumes just blew me away. So and you get a quite a variety. So it's been there's lots of highlights, lots and lots of highlights. And I'll be it's kind of sad when it's the light because this the last one is going to be very sad to say goodbye. [00:27:17] Yes, what what are your thoughts because we are coming up to the last Queen of the whole Universe Pageant. [00:27:25] As it said, but we've done it for 10 years, and we should be very proud of what we've done and what how much money we've raised over the teen years. [00:27:35] And [00:27:38] you know, I'm very thankful for the people that I've meet, you know, wouldn't meet Jonathan and Kevin. [00:27:45] And [00:27:47] lots of the other boys and girls. [00:27:51] It's just been a really nice experience. And Emily said say goodbye, but teen years probably has time to turn move on. It's kind of a bang. You know, get on the high and it's really important to so I think we you know we can be proud of what what we've actually achieved.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.