In Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Tinovimbanashe Sibanda is part of the Ensemble and cover La Chocolat at London’s Piccadilly Theatre, with the show currently booking in the West End until October. Last year, Tinovimbanashe was Dance Captain and Swing in Hairspray at the London Coliseum and, just before the pandemic, she was a dancer in CTC – IDENTITY. Previous shows for Tinovimbanashe have included Jesus Christ Superstar at the Barbican Theatre along with the concert at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Dick Whittington at National Theatre, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe at Bridge Theatre, and she made her West End debut in Strictly Ballroom at Piccadilly Theatre. We spoke to Tinovimbanashe about being in the cast of Moulin Rouge! The Musical, performing in CTC – IDENTITY and her time with Jesus Christ Superstar.
How are you finding your time so far in the Ensemble of Moulin Rouge! The Musical and was there anything that drew you to the production?
I am having such a great time! I love the people I’m sharing space with and I feel so stretched – both creatively and physically. I really wanted to be a part of more work that was choreographically led by women so when I learnt that the choreographer and associate were both women, I was instantly drawn in.
What was it like getting into character for the first time and seeing the costumes?
So… every single one of our costumes has been tailored to fit us and accentuate our favourite bits. Now – I am naturally a goofball but when I put the costumes on I feel unique, sexy and strong which makes the stepping into character part that bit easier.
Do you remember how you felt making your debut covering the role of La Chocolat and what is the character like to play?
I felt surprisingly calm! She is a fun one – strong, bold, competent, sexy and mature. A ‘handle my business’ type of chic.
How much did you know about the show before booking your role and what are you enjoying most about performing at Piccadilly Theatre?
So, first of all, I had watched the Baz Lurhmann film before – so I was quite familiar with the story. And then during the audition process, I kept researching or watching anything I could find on the musical or the creative team so I could get a clearer view of what the process would look like.
Also, I love seeing the different combinations of the cast with swings and covers going on. Every single human in this cast is so unique and contributes to the story we tell – so each new combination is a treat.
Last year, you were part of Hairspray at the London Coliseum, what was this like?
Challenging and rewarding. It is such a joyful piece of theatre on the surface but contains themes and unresolved inaccuracies that meant it wasn’t always the healthiest environment for me personally.
However, I was so fortunate to work alongside some phenomenal humans and I am particularly proud of what we achieved during a very trying time for our industry.
Can you tell us about being Dance Captain and Swing?
Dance captaining is so wholesome. I love how the role really requires you to see people and the combination of serving the company and the story/choreographer’s vision.
Swinging is so fun and positively challenging. Everyone needs to do it at least once in their career.
How was it performing in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Barbican Theatre and being part of the concert at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in 2020?
I love this show with every fibre of my being. It was my first job out of training. I then had the honour of heading to the Barbican to dance captain it and then returned to be a part of the concert version in 2020 as DC again.
It’s so physically demanding, which I love, and I found performing released so many endorphins so I was always mostly on a high. Also, the score is the chef’s kiss – I was at a concert every night as far as I’m concerned.
You performed in the Dick Whittington pantomime at the National Theatre, how was this?
It was such a wholesome experience. I was so proud to be a part of such a diverse, talented and collaborative company.
What was The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe like to be involved with?
I really enjoyed being a part of something so devised and that combined music, puppetry and movement. It was also very cool to do a purposefully family-friendly show.
What are some of your favourite memories from being in the Ensemble of Strictly Ballroom the Musical in the West End, which also marked your West End debut?
I’ll hit this answer with bullet points.
- I love dancing with Drew McOnie’s choreographer.
- Strictly Ballroom really pushed me as a dancer.
- One of my dance captains inspired me to pursue dance captaining.
- My dance partner was like my private coach and taught me a lot (like how to bevel!!!). He could also re-glue my eyelash in record time.
Before the pandemic, you were a dancer in CTC – IDENTITY, can you say about this?
I love dance theatre and it was a great opportunity to do a project that had dance as the main medium. It was also really cool to work in such an intimate setting both in regards to the size of the cast and the venue.
Where does your love of performing come from and how did you start?
It started in church. Music and art were always around and although I didn’t know it was something I could pursue professionally at the time – it was something I really enjoyed. So when my community college teacher suggested I audition for Bird College I thought “cool, I can spend three years dancing and singing and figure anything else out after”.
Do you have any favourite theatre shows to watch and which would you like to see that you haven’t done so as yet?
I need to see: Get Up, Stand Up!, Frozen and Hamilton.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I love watching films and series. All I need is some snacks and I can binge-watch film after film or episode after episode. I’m particularly passionate about films that celebrate marginalised groups through the directors or casting.
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