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October 20, 2014
Sunday, July 20, 2014

Argentine artist to perform to Polanski’s tune

Mike Zubi is enthusiastic about his forthcoming début under Roman Polanski’s direction.
By Luciana Ekdesman
Herald Staff
Mike Zubi is scheduled to appear in French version of Dance of the Vampires

Opportunities appear once in a lifetime and one ought to be ready for that moment. In December last, Argentine actor, singer-songwriter Mike Zubi came across an open casting call for a musical in Paris. He submitted the producers a video with songs in French. A week later, Zubi got a call that lasted 40 minutes.

Two months later, he travelled to Paris for tryout runs. Zubi was picked out of more than 3,000 people as a member of the ensemble and as the understudy of Alfred, the main character in Le Bal Des Vampires (The Dance of the Vampires), a musical version of the 1967 Roman Polanski film, now directed for the stage by Polanski himself.

Zubi, a talented, young performer currently acting in Jorge Azurmendi’s version of Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It (Como les guste) at the Teatro La Comedia, will make his début at the Mogador Theatre in Paris in October.

In this interview, Zubi shares his experience with the Herald.

Next month you begin rehearsing Le bal des vampires in Paris, based on Roman Polanski’s 1967 film The FearlessVampire Killers (Dance of the Vampires). What does this mean to you?

Well, I see this as a big opportunity. It’s a chance to learn new things and to hone in my skills as an artist. Who knows what the future will bring, so as for now, this is all I have: a project that I love that will require effort and commitment.

It also means that my life will change in many ways, since I’ll be living in another country, speaking a foreign language. But, above all, I would describe it as a joyful moment. It’s a fantastic story, really hilarious, and Jim Steinman’s music is out of this world.

Which differences and similarities have you found between auditions in Argentina and auditions in France for this production?

To be honest, the process is pretty similar. The main difference, in this case (and it’s very extraordinary even for international standards) is that the auditions went on for months and consisted of different stages, including a one-week, eight-hour-a-day Masterclass at Mogador Theatre.

Participants were tested in many disciplines: acting, singing and dancing. It’s also worth noting that submissions came from all over the world, which isn’t always the case.

Polanski attended the last audition of Le bal..., did you interact with him?

Polanski was at the lobby with everyone. Four finalists vied for the role of Sarah, and four participants for the role of Alfred. All eight of us had to perform our individual songs and the love duet on stage in front of him. It was pure adrenaline.

What’s he like?

He’s very low-profile and he’s really into his work. It’s really an honour to be able to work in one of his projects. I think of him as a living legend and a genius.

Does Polanski have an active role in the play?

Definitely. He’s putting his name on this production and of course he wants to be involved as much as possible. He was there for the auditions, for the press conference, for the recording of the promotional song. He even got himself locked inside a coffin on stage! How more active can he get?

Did you speak French prior to the auditions?

Yes, I did. It’s virtually impossible to learn this role if you don’t speak the language. I studied French as a teenager. I hadn’t spoken it for a while so I really had to work on my accent. There’s still a lot of work to do but hopefully I will have time once I start rehearsing.

Do you know other members of the cast?

I had the chance to meet many of them during the final auditions in Paris. It’s a wonderful team of very talented and charming people; we even had the chance to travel together to New York as part of the Master Class.

Are all of them French?

Most are, but there are also people from other countries, mainly Europe. I’d venture to say I’m the only Latin American.

What can you anticipate about this musical?

The plot is crazy and hysterical, the costumes and makeup are brilliant, and the music is out of this world. And besides, who doesn’t like vampires? October 16, 2014, is the premiere, and I really hope the French audience embraces it.

What are your expectations?

My first goal is to learn, to be ready to deliver what they expect from me. Once I achieve that, I also hope to have a great time, make some new friends, and prepare myself for the next step!

@lucianaek
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