Go backstage of one of New York City’s biggest shows with cast members and dancers, Khori Michelle Petinaud and Bahiyah Hibah. They get real about being back at work after the shutdown, being working moms, being Black women on Broadway and why you’ve got to see this Tony Award-winning Best Musical.
Taking the Stage Amidst Change Back in 2020, Moulin Rouge! The Musical was one of the first Broadway shows to go dark because of COVID-19, but now they’re back—bringing their energy and excitement to audiences. Bahiyah says it’s surreal that they were gone for 18-months, but “we built something here and what we created is amazing.”
In that time away, Khori became a mother to her son Carver, who will be one-year-old in December, “I dreamed of having a child,” she says. “And when I walked back into the theater, it was as a mother and an artist, feeling full and happy.” Although, she says that being a working parent can be a lot on your heart. As a mom to teenage son, Soliel, Bahiyah agrees, saying that it pulls on your heart strings, but also provides comfort by noting that it gets easier.
Being Black on Broadway Both women got their start in The Color Purple, which Bahiyah says had people who looked like her, but she soon realized there wasn’t the same representation backstage. And now representation on and off stage has become more important than ever. “When we’ve had racial injustices and losses suffered, there’s healing in seeing full representation,” she says. “I’m happy that Moulin Rouge! The Musical has taken clear and concise action to create a safe place for black people,” says Khori. “I feel more freedom to be myself.”
Khori adds that there’s more diversity backstage as well, across many departments like wigs, physical therapy, HR, and diversity, equity and inclusion. “We have a long way to go to see each other as only flesh and blood, but artists can open your mind and your heart,” says Bahiyah. “It’s so important for black and brown boys and girls to see themselves represented on the stage and off. I’m grateful for helping to create a new legacy.”
Courtesy of Moulin Rouge! The Musical Experience The Energy “Get ready for amazing surprises, the best dancers on Broadway, and a diverse, beautiful group on stage,” says Khori. “I’m proud to be a woman in this show. Choreographer Sonya Tayeh created a place for women to do hard core dancing, not just look beautiful.” And Bahiyah agrees, “This show is visual candy. Sonya allowed us to take up space and add our own unique-ness to the moves—each artist is a unicorn and it’s the artistry that makes this show so special.” Khori says audiences can expect to see “a lot of heart on stage—it’s magical.”
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