A Conversation with Bree Tipoki

An interview with Moulin Rouge! The Musical Australia's Co-Dance Captain and Swing

A Conversation with Bree Tipoki
Bree Tipoki at Sydney Opening Night of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Image Credit: Ben Symons

The days are counting down, now in the single digits until Moulin Rouge! The Musical opens its doors for the first time on the QPAC Lyric Theatre stage, and with it a few hours of splendour, style and imagination. Starting 16 May 2023 and running until 27 July 2023, Queensland musical theatre lovers have Moulin Rouge! The Musical to look forward to, whisking attendees away to Paris in 1899 – to follow a blooming romance between lovesick American writer Christian, and Satine, the star of the renowned Moulin Rouge nightclub.

Based on the original feature film by Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge! The Musical comes from the Australian producer Global Creatures, whose previous original musicals include Muriel’s Wedding the Musical, and a musical adaptation of another Luhrmann classic, Strictly Ballroom the Musical (one of my personal all-time favourites).

Last week I shared my Q&A with Queensland star Patrice Tipoki, who fills the role of Moulin Rouge! The Musical’s Satine Alternate. I also had the opportunity to ask some questions of the show’s Co-Dance Captain and Swing, Bree Tipoki. The Queensland-based performer and creative is a proud First Nations mother, creative and performer of the Palawa people of Lutruwita. Some of her previous credits include serving as Director/Choreographer for Altitude Theatre’s Once on this Island at La Boite Theatre, Director/Choreographer for The Producers (Altitude Theatre), Shrek (GFO), Resident Choreographer for School of Rock (GWB) and Dance Captain for The Wizard of Oz (GFO) among many other roles.

Please scroll down to discover some insights shared by Tipoki, highlighting her experiences with Moulin Rouge! The Musical, in the industry, and sharing her own advice for those aspiring to enter the performing arts industry like she did.

Can you share with us a little bit about your journey to where you are now. What steps led you to joining both the performing arts industry, and ultimately the Australian cast of Moulin Rouge! The Musical?

I am originally from Hobart, Tasmania, and have loved dancing since the age of four. After trying lots of things within the arts, it was clear musical theatre was the perfect fit to combine all my story-telling skills. After touring many shows and having a baby, I really missed dancing, so Moulin Rouge! The Musical was the perfect chance to tread the boards again and dive into Sonya Tayeh’s incredible choreography.

A Conversation with Bree Tipoki
Alinta Chidzey (Satine), Des Flanagan (Christian) and cast in Elephant Love Medley. Image Credit: Michelle Grace Hunder

Having toured to several Australian states already, what have been some highlights during your time touring Moulin Rouge! The Musical?

Touring sell-out seasons in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth has been incredible. After the pandemic, to see people out and enjoying themselves is truly inspiring. We have had amazing support across Australia. Moulin Rouge! The Musical attracted such an insanely talented cast, and being able to perform with them every night is awesome. Our swing team in particular are one in a million! Having my son with me on tour, and our little family being a team, is my Number One highlight though.

Are you excited about performing in Brisbane?

100% YES! I can’t wait to perform in my hometown. I think Brisbane audiences will lose their minds when they see the show.

What made you want to audition for your role on this production?

I auditioned for Moulin Rouge! The Musical because I love Baz Luhrmann’s film and wanted a chance to dance Sonya Tayeh’s choreography. Being a swing performer allows me to experience the show from all aspects.

What are your earliest memories of the works of Baz Luhrmann?

‘Romeo and Juliet’ is my earliest memory of Baz Luhrmann’s unique style of film. I loved every part of it.

A Conversation with Bree Tipoki
Moulin Rouge! The Musical at the Regent Theatre Image Credit: Michelle Grace Hunder

Rapid Fire Questions!

Favourite song?

‘Backstage Romance’

Favourite moment in the show?

The final lines that the bohemians say on a bare stage… ‘TRUTH, BEAUTY, FREEDOM, LOVE’.

Favourite piece of choreography in the show?


Favourite costume?

The Can-Can dresses are my favourite!

Favourite piece of staging / set design?

The blue Elephant – it weighs 220kg and stands 5.1m tall!

If you had the opportunity to fill another role in the show for a night, with no limitations, what character would that be?

French artist Toulouse-Lautrec, currently played by Jarrod Draper in the Australian production of Moulin Rouge! The Musical

What is something that people might miss on their first watch of Moulin Rouge! The Musical but should keep an eye out for?

Gosh, there is so much happening at every moment, it’s hard to pick one! During ‘Backstage Romance’ there’s a fun lift that happens behind the wardrobe racks; keep an eye out for it!

A Conversation with Bree Tipoki
Samantha Dodemaide (Nini) and the cast of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Image Credit: Michelle Grace Hunder

What aspects and moments of your life have assisted in making you the actor that you are today?

Everything makes me the actor I am today, however my connection to culture and to my family assists me in being the most grounded, centred actor.

What are your recommendations for those who are looking to follow your footsteps and get a career in the performing arts?

Take EVERY opportunity and give it 100%. Treat everyone with respect.

Thank you very much to Bree Tipoki for taking time out of their busy schedule in the lead up to the Brisbane seaso nto answer these questions, and to the publicity team behind Moulin Rouge! The Musical in making this interview happen.

Expect to see more articles on Moulin Rouge! The Musical both prior to and during its Brisbane season, including a full review early in the week after next.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is set to commence its Brisbane season at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) Lyric Theatre starting 16 May 2023, and run until 27 July 2023. This will be subsequently followed by an encore season at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne starting 20 August 2023. For booking information for both legs of the show’s ongoing Australian tour, visit the official Moulin Rouge! The Musical Australia website.

Header Image: Supplied

Founder of The Otaku's Study. I have been exploring this labyrinth of fandom these last fifteen years, and still nowhere close to the exit yet. Probably searching for a long time to come.

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