One of Nick Phillips’ biggest dreams was to book a show that brought him to his hometown. Magic Mike Live is that show.
With both of his parents past members of the Australian Ballet Company, and an Aunt and Uncle have performed across Europe with companies such as the Stuttgart Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater, it’s no surprise that Nick leaped into the world of dance. Originally from Melbourne, Nick moved to Los Angeles in 2016 to break into the international dance scene.
Nick started his training at age 11, and went on to complete a three year Dance and Music Theatre course at Patrick Studios Australia. Since then, he has performed with artists such as Havana Brown, Jessica Mauboy, Guy Sebastian, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and has regularly featured on TV shows such as Dancing with the Stars Australia and Australia’s Got Talent. Since relocating to Los Angeles, some of his more recent credits include dancing with Britney Spears, Cher, Kylie Minogue, performing on TV shows including America’s Got Talent, American Horror Story, and Germany’s Next Top Model.
Now, Nick gets to tour his home country with Magic Mike Live, the Channing Tatum produced immersive dance experience. The show has already dazzled audiences in London, Las Vegas, and Berlin. With rehearsals well underway ahead of the show’s Melbourne opening in May, we had a chat about his experience on the project and what audiences can expect from this… spectacle!
Can you tell me a bit about the audition process?
I auditioned in Los Angeles, right after coming off another tour. It was a private call audition, so invite only. There were like 50 of us there, we learned 2 routines – one choreography based on and one lap-dance one where they brought women in. And that second one was really testing how we treat the women. You gotta be respectful, and that’s the real test. So they did a cut and then there were 20 of us there for the final round, about 8 hours. They pulled out instruments, asked if anyone wanted to do a song, or had special skills. I studied in Musical Theatre a while ago so pulled a song out, googled the lyrics, and did it acapella. Got on the drum kit and did that…
How is Magic Mike Live different to other shows you’ve worked on?
Before this, I was in a show with Britney Spears that unfortunately didn’t end up happening. We rehearsed for 7 weeks and then she had some family drama so it’s been postponed indefinitely, and that was a year ago now. A month after that I went on tour with Cher. I mean dancing for artists is what I moved to Los Angeles for, and it’s great, don’t get me wrong, it’s the dream. But this show is people coming to see us, not the artist. We’re not the backups, we’re the frontmen, 15 of us frontmen. We become the superstar. We all get featured too, everyone has a featured moment where we get 600 pairs of eyes on us. I’m pretty sure everyone has a ‘feature’ moment in some way, shape, or form. So everyone feels loved, gets their moment.
The venue is being custom built just for the show – that must be a whole new experience for you as a performer?
It’s state of the art, world first kind of stuff. No one does that… apart from Cirque Du Soleil [laughs] I’ve had so many people asking “oh, which theatre are you going in to?” but it’s not that kind of show, it’s not a performance for the audience, it’s interactive. There are no venues that really provide that. All the elements of the show, the bars we can dance on top of, two level plexistage, rigging and stuff… and lap-dance friendly [chuckles] we need room to get in and do that all.
How did people react when you told them you’d be doing Magic Mike Live?
I haven’t told a lot of people because we weren’t allowed to for a while. Family were super stoked, I come from a family of dancers. They were very supportive in that way, and for them… they were so proud, I was so lucky to have that support.
And you’ve mentioned in the past that coming back to tour a show through Melbourne has been a dream of yours?
When I’d moved to the U.S. [Magic Mike Live] was just starting up. I remember seeing the Vegas cast which had maybe 10 guys, with Chan, and I thought “god, I’d love to do that someday” but it seemed so out of my reach in a way. And a few years later, that one day has arrived. To do this, to bring this world class show from the U.S. and starting in my home town is… it was one of my top goals that I wrote on my flight over to Los Angeles. Some major show that brings me back home. I thought it was going to be with an artist, but it’s here!
Why do you think people are so drawn to Magic Mike Live?
I mean, Channing is amazing. What he’s nailed with this show is that it focuses on what the women actually want, not what men think they want. And it’s such a clear distinction. It’s giving women the chance to objectify men, and we’re okay with it. It’s a respect thing as well, we’re all trained and spoken to a lot about it, they even look for it in the audition. You can have amazing dancers, but in the lap-dance bit they go for the classic ‘show it all off’ – but did she ask for that? Maybe she just wants a gentle conversation or a kiss on the hand. You have to be able to read what they want, or just straight up ask.
Tickets for Magic Mike Live are available at TakeYourSeats.com.au