Ryan Carlson is one of 13 professional male dancers in Magic Mike Live Las Vegas, a semi-scripted dance revue billed with the promise of “women’s empowerment.
Magic Mike Live is the most recent addition to an empire Tatum has built on his stripper past, and today is the second day of technical rehearsals for the revue. Carlson already has 13 years of dance experience under his not-present-at-this-moment belt. The acting that will be required of him poses a new challenge he must overcome by the show’s March 30 debut. Luckily, he’s got a pretty good teacher.
Up until February, Carlson, 25, was living in his native Jacksonville, Florida, working as many as three jobs to support his 2-year-old daughter. “A little over two years ago, I heard they were doing a show, but I had just committed to stop dancing at that point because of my daughter,” he says. “A year later, I heard about it again. I was itching to dance, but I just didn’t have the money [to travel to the audition].” Then, New York talent agent Lakey Wolff contacted Carlson before Magic Mike Live’s final auditions in December 2016. “I had never had an agent. I told her, ‘I just can’t afford it.’ She paid for me to come and audition, and I booked it. I’m so thankful.”
“It’s not an in-your-face, guys-ripping-their-shirts-off, crotch-in-your-face [show]. No matter how sexy a girl might think a guy is standing still or in a picture, being in a dance show and not being able to dance is not sexy.” – Ryan Carlson, dancer
The cure to the common male revue?
The Vegas production has been a long time coming with at least two years of development. After Tatum appeared on Ellen in September, the show has sold more than 25,000 advance tickets.
“Channing has been there every day. He’s played a huge part in this and is involved in most every decision we make, just like a regular director,” says Alison Faulk, choreographer and co-director. “Chan always said he would never make a third movie, but this kind of is that third movie, the natural progression of things. We’ve been rehearsing and working so long that we’re really excited to see the audience react.”
A big part of the films’ appeal lies in Tatum’s talent as a dancer, that he’s not just an actor playing the role of a stripper. The show’s long, intense recruiting and audition process resulted in a cast stocked with standout performers, including veteran choreographer Luke Broadlick, who opens the show as a sort of dance captain. He says it’s hard to compare Magic Mike to other male revues, or any other Vegas shows, period.
“All I think of from those shows is seeing a dude in a bowtie and skinny pants and long ’80s hair doing kicks and turns and stuff. That’s the only depiction I knew,” he says. “I wouldn’t consider it that type of show, with the production we have and the choreography we’re doing.”
So could it be closer to something like what hip-hop dance phenoms the Jabbawockeez are doing at MGM Grand? “That level of creativity and dopeness is definitely in this show, but the sexy aspect is also way above what you’ll see [in Las Vegas],” Broadlick says. “It’s just a more creative way of really showcasing the guys and letting them present themselves to the women. We’re not just onstage doing a song and you’re throwing money. It’s really engaging, a fully immersive experience versus a show. It’s hard to compare.”