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Listen: Karen Olivo on ‘Moulin Rouge!’ and Life During the Broadway Shutdown

Karen Olivo Moulin Rouge
Matthew Murphy

When the “Moulin Rouge!” musical shut down along with the rest of Broadway, actor Karen Olivo found herself missing castmates who’d become more than just coworkers.

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

“You spend so much time with these people, and we have such an intimate relationship, that when they’re pulled from you, it feels very unnatural,” the Tony winner (“West Side Story”) explained on the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast. “For actors, we don’t see our families very often. That’s the truth. Who we do see very often are the people we make art with, and when that is taken from us, you really do feel a sense of loss.”

But from her home base in Madison, Wis., Olivo is already looking ahead to returning to the show as soon as Broadway gets back up and running — and making sure she’s keeping in shape, both physically and vocally. “Honestly, in the shower last night I started warming up a little bit, and started singing through a couple of things, just to be like, ‘Okay, right, this is something that you’re going to have to do again,'” she laughed.

The role she’ll be going back to is Satine, the star performer at the Moulin Rouge. Olivo recalled the process of rethinking a character who is, on stage, very different from the Satine play by Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 movie. “What I like to do as a storyteller is try to find all the nooks and crannies, try to explore all of the options, all of the avenues for the character’s storytelling and where the story could actually go, and how we can push boundaries,” she said.

She also revealed the extent of her excitement over the upcoming film version of “In the Heights,” the Broadway musical that gave Olivo her breakout role. “I think I’m gonna be the most excited person in the world,” Olivo enthused. “Every time I see the trailer I just — I break out into a sweat, I start crying, my heart rate is through the roof. I keep joking, but I’m not going to be okay. I’m going to need help afterwards! Help out of the theater. I’m going to need to get to my therapist. I’m just so damn proud! … And I think [the movie] is going to be the kind of Band Aid that people will need, when they actually see it.”

Warner Bros. indefinitely pulled Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” — originally due out June 26 — from its release schedule on Tuesday.

New episodes of “Stagecraft” are available every Tuesday. Download and subscribe to Stagecraft on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher and anywhere that finer podcasts are dispensed. Find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.