Old guys rock, of course they do. But do they dance in G-strings?
I thought a visit to “Magic Mike Live” auditions would answer the question of whether a dude over 40 has any business being in a male dance revue. As a dude in his 50s, I was thinking physically, about what women want to see onstage, and what old guys are able to put on display.
Instead, I learned it’s all about personality.
“Magic Mike Live” opens March 30 at the Hard Rock Hotel and already looks to be a hit. Ticketmaster lists many of the early performances as having “not many left,” and some dates with only single seats at $100 or more.
Channing Tatum is hands-on with the revue tied to his two hit movies about the lives of male strippers. But just as he pledged last May, the creative team running local auditions last week promised to do things a little differently.
One of them: A press invite took care to mention “the casting team will also look for more mature men ages 40-60 who are in great shape and can move well, as well as strong dancers with special skills including playing the guitar.”
“If you think about it, everybody has a type. Some people want an older man,” choreographer Luke Broadlick explained. So if the audience has no age limit, the cast should include “a guy someone’s mom would enjoy more than just looking at a hot 20-something or 30-something.”
None of the guys warming up in the lobby of a local dance studio looked like they had reached the James Bond phase of old-guy cool.
But it’s not like the other two longstanding male revues, Chippendales and “Thunder from Down Under,” give dancers a “Logan’s Run” boot to their sculpted behinds on their 40th birthdays. Chippendales fans have watched Nathan Minor age gracefully at the Rio since 2002.
And Marcus Deegan has been the affable host of “Thunder” for its 15-year run. “I knew I was getting up there when I spoke to Nathan the other day and he said, “You know I’m 43.” And I’m like, ‘Oh, (expletive). I’m actually 46. We are gettin’ up there brother!’” Deegan says.
But about a year ago, Deegan “by default” gave up the surprise twist of tossing his top and joining the “skin to win” party near the end of the show. “A bit of a bad back injury right now, speaking of age,” he says.
“I still consider myself a valid member. It’s just a little bit different,” he adds. Hosting is “kind of working for me better now than it was when I was 36. You’ve got to be a little bit more distinguished, a little more seasoned. Although I don’t look my age and I definitely don’t act it, I have the experience of doing the show over the years that gives me that wisdom to deal with any awkward situation.”
Deegan’s back issues aside, it seems to be less about staying in shape — “Sharknado” star Ian Ziering showed off his six-pack when he hosted Chippendales at ages 49 and 50 — and more about staying in the game too long.
The “Magic Mike” movie was about guys trapped in “the life,” and how older ones can be a lot like hair-metal stars of the ’80s: lapsing into self-parody, but still surrounded by willing women.
“There’s a difference between confidence and cockiness,” Broadlick says. “A lot of the older guys who have been doing some other shows, they have that sense of arrogance to their persona that doesn’t represent us as well.”
Co-director Alison Faulk further explains. “It’s not like the guys will be like, ‘Come look at me, I’m what you want.’ It’s more like, ‘What can I do for you?’
Young or old, “Magic Mike” is looking for amplified versions of the actual guys who walk in the door. Auditions in other cities locked in spots for a metal band drummer, a Broadway actor with a theatrical singing voice and a piano player from Louisiana.
“That’s what this show is about. Everyone has their skills,” Broadlick says. “We’re staying away from cliche and literally creating around genuinely talented (guys).”
Even the old guys. As an actual one, I didn’t need the much-younger Broadlick to tell me, “I guess people fall away from their arts and passions just because of life. Children and work. So seeing some of these guys jam out on guitar or still dancing, it’s really cool.”
Deegan and his “Thunder” producer Adam Steck hope the “Magic Mike” show, like the movies, will create a rising tide to carry all G-strings.
But, he cautions, “the women come to these shows for a specific reason, and the reason is they want to see great looking guys with a great physique. If you don’t look good, people are going to laugh at that. The older you get, you have to be more on point with your tools for the trade.”
And when it comes to the incoming competiton’s strong advance sales? Well, what else would you expect an old guy — err, mature man — to say than this?
“Let’s see if you can stay here for 15 years like we have. Let’s see if you can do five years. That’ll be the test of time for me.”