'Movin' Out' moves into Minneapolis for a weekend

By Tatiana Craine

Movin’ Out is the brainchild of Twyla Tharp’s creativity and Billy Joel’s musical genius. Tharp directed and choreographed the production that ran on Broadway for 1303 performances. The show is a jukebox musical, which means all the songs were recorded before the show made it to the stage. “Movin’ Out” stands out against the crowd of Broadway musicals because it boasts a Piano Man and a band suspended above the stage who provide the dialogue and vocals for the entire performance. Five main dancers act as friends who grow with each other over a twenty-year time span from the Vietnam War era until the ’80s. I had the opportunity to speak with the lead dancer from “Movin’ Out,” Marc Heitzman. We spoke about his new role in the touring production, his days as a nutcracker, and what dancing means to him.

Tatiana Craine: When did you first start dancing?

Marc Heitzman: I started dancing when I was four.

TC: Did you take classes?

MH: When I was four yeah, I started taking classes in Iowa. Yeah, Ames, Iowa.

TC: You were in the Iowa State Center Nutcracker ballet for 11 years, and five of those years you were the lead role of “The Nutcracker. What kind of preparation did that give you for your role as Eddie in “Movin’ Out?”

MH: Although “Movin’ Out” is a lot of jazz, it’s exciting because there’s not too much ballet. But everything has a ballet background. Doing “The Nutcracker” for that long gave me the training that I needed to do the part.

TC: I hear you had to perform “The Nutcracker” with a huge mask. Do you think there’s more pressure in performing that role with such a huge obstacle? Or is there more pressure in performing as Eddie?

MH: Well, considering this is a professional job, there’s more pressure doing Eddie.

TC: You were originally slated to attend college in New York. What made you change your mind?

MH: Well, I was originally supposed to go to college in Oklahoma City. And once I got this job, it was just kind of a hands down thing. [Because] I was going to college to try and get one of these jobs, if that makes any sense. It was just a hands down thing. I mean, it was a long process between me and my parents and everything. But they were really supportive of it and let me take this job instead of go to college, which is huge.

TC: How did the auditioning process for “Movin’ Out” go for you?

MH: Well there were a bunch of auditions throughout the country for a bunch of years. But at my audition I was at New York City Dance Alliance Convention. They’re [the convention] nationals, and they came out and did like a week long convention. “Movin’ Out” came and did an open audition there. So I went into it thinking, “Good experience, I’ve done this before.” [I did it] just to get good experience for the future, and I got called back for the next day, and then I got the job after that next callback audition on the spot. It was a long process, like two days. But it was amazing, very unexpected.

TC: You’re nearly right out of high school-how does it feel to be traveling the country and doing what you love?

MH: I absolutely love it. I mean, I get to see the country and get paid for it. And I mean, every night I dance, so I couldn’t ask for more. Just being 19, you know.

TC: Do you have a favorite scene in Movin’ Out?

MH: For Eddie, I have a couple scenes. There’s a big war scene called “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and Eddie does this freak out song and he’s jumping off the ramp a lot. I just kind of like how I get to show off this super athletic dancing ability. And then at the end there’s “River of Dreams,” which is like Eddie’s comeback into the world-he’s good now, out of the drugs, and it’s just an inspirational moment. It’s really fun.

TC: “Movin’ Out” doesn’t have any dialogue-other than the Piano Man and the band suspended above the stage, right?

MH: The only music and dialogue is with the band-it’s just very different compared to most musicals.

TC: You’ve had experiences like this with “The Nutcracker,” but “Movin’ Out” is essentially a rock ballet. How is it to perform in this type of show rather than something more classical?

MH: I like [“Movin’ Out”] more. It’s more of a performance. You have your acting beats, and you have all these different stages of scenes where your character can grow throughout them. And with “The Nutcracker,” everyone knows the story already, and there’s just that one character for just that one time. And [in “Movin’ Out”], this takes place through two decades. So it starts back in the ’60s and ’70s-Vietnam War-and in between, the guys go off. And so you’re going from right out of high school to when you’re 30. There’s just this huge character growth in between. It’s amazing to feel every time. And every time you perform, you can change your character, well, not change it, but you can develop it more and more so you can get a better aspect out of it.

TC: What style of dance do you think is the most versatile in telling a story without words?

MH: With this show, I said it was jazzy, but it’s kind of hard to define. It’s got so much in it-it’s Twyla Tharp [the director]. She’s amazing. She was just honored at the Kennedy [Center Honors] this year. So it’s kind of like her style. It’s really just dance and not a particular style. But there’s a lot of ballet just because ballet is the basis for everything.

TC: Would you consider later going into theater with speaking and singing roles, too?

MH: I sing and I dance and I act. And I intend to [seek out those roles]. After this, we’ll see what happens. I want to keep on doing Broadway after this. That’s always been my goal since I was younger: Broadway. So we’ll see what happens in the future.

TC: Who is your Broadway idol?

MH: I don’t have a Broadway idol – well, besides Gene Kelly just because it’s Gene Kelly. Rasta Thomas has always been a big influence in my life. I met him after one of my performances; he came backstage after a show one time to congratulate me. He’s not really my idol, I’d say-but he’s one of the best male dancers in my opinion. He created Bad Boys of Dance. He also danced Eddie in the first national tour of “Movin’ Out.” He’s one of my favorite male dancers today.

TC: Do you have any advice for budding dancers?

MH: Well, for one thing, everyone should obviously see the show. I also think that people tend to give up too easily. You can be shut down so many times. In all likelihood [the rejection is] not because of your ability- it’s because of what you look like. You’re probably just not what they had in mind for the part, and you can’t beat yourself down about that because you’re going to be shut down so many times at auditions. It’s 99 out of 100 times that you’ll be shut down. And you’re going to get that job once, and from there you can start building and get more and more on your resume. But for example, one of our Piano Men [in “Movin’ Out”], he tried out for “Movin’ Out” four times. And during those first times he was shut down. You just have to find yourself and tell yourself, “I wanna do this,” and never give up what you’re doing. Just keep training and just try to be better than what you are. You’re never perfect. So just keep training.

“Movin’ Out” plays at the Orpheum Theatre from March 6-8. Student rush tickets are available at the Orpheum Theatre box office for $20 one hour before the show. Students may buy a maximum of two tickets with cash and a student ID.