“5Q” is an online-only column featuring five questions about stage productions in the Metro Area with a special focus on the GLBTQ community’s relationship to the production. Periodically, “5Q” will take the form of an interview with actors, directors, writers, etc. to shed some light on the production process.
Created by Regina Peluso, Collide is a performing arts company dedicated to creating new works that are rooted in classical musical theater jazz dance and inspired by the influences of Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse. After 15 years working and training as a performing artist in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, Peluso relocated to her hometown of Minneapolis-St. Paul and founded Collide, bringing together Twin Cities dancers, musicians, vocalists, actors, spoken word artists, playwrights, choreographers, and directors to create original Broadway-style theatrical works.
Collide’s latest original work (the sixth since it’s inception in 2013), C.L.U., is inspired by the iconic board game. The production features six professional dancers, two vocalists, one actor and a three-piece jazz ensemble in a murder mystery like you have never seen before. Set in the 1920’s, C.L.U.’s characters arrive at the Highcrest Mansion lured by an anonymous dinner invitation. Through the coarse of the evening, the mystery host’s intentions are made known, but not before a murder takes place! It is up to the audience to choose the villain, and the show’s outcome is determined by their vote.
Everyone dreams of a murder mystery party. How did the idea to do C.L.U. come about?
Regina Peluso: I am very passionate about bridging the gap between the audience and dance. I have always loved a good “choose-your-own-ending” novels…and I thought that applying the concept to a dance musical would be a fun way to get the audience involved in the story.
What’s it like to do a show where the audience chooses the ending? That’s got to be interesting, logistics wise.
RP: YES! Not just for the dancers and actors but for the band and technical staff as well! On my end I struggled with how we can show such complicated plot twists clearly through movement only. But, luckily, that is where the actors come in.
Collide has been called the best-kept secret in Twin Cities theater. How does your blend of dancers, actors, etc. set you apart?
RP: A few ways! Everything we create is original. I use the term “Dance Musical” as it is really the dancers that tell the story, unlike a typical musical. We try to keep our productions accessible to audiences of all ages. We tend to get a lot of men dragged in by their partners who wouldn’t typically go to a “dance” show, but end up loving the music and the fast pace of the production. My husband calls my choreography “theater for those with ADD” as there is always a few things happening at the same time which encourages you to be an active audience member. But the greatest thing I have found from Collide is how bringing artists of different genres together pushes everyone to play at the top of their game. The dancers are inspired by the musicians, who are lifted up by the vocalists who are inspired by the dancers, etc!
You have a commitment to using live music for all of your shows. Can you talk about that commitment and why you don’t use pre-recorded tracks?
RP: There is always an incredible moment when the dancers and band first come together. The dancers have been so used to working with recorded tracks that the moment they hear the musicians they become inspired and start moving so far beyond their potential. Same goes with the musicians! Due to finances, we do not get to rehearse with the musicians (and typically vocalists) until the first Monday of our tech week. We really only have three full run-throughs with them before an audience, which is nothing when the entire show is nothing but music. And we all use a different language when it comes to counting and making sure we are all in the same spot. I am always grateful for live musicians and you will never see them hidden away or in an orchestra pit at a Collide show.
You founded Collide in 2011. As a choreographer, was this always your dream, or why did you decide to create Collide?
RP: It is crazy actually. I never dreamt of having a company. After moving back to Minneapolis after 12 years in LA and New York, I couldn’t find the type of jazz dance I had trained in. And, after a few glasses of wine with my husband, I decided to just “put on a show” in the style of Twyla Tharp’s “Movin’ Out.” This was my first production in 2012 (Lot of Living to Do at the Southern Theater) and we were able to make back our investment from ticket sales in one weekend. I realized there was a hunger for this kind of art in the Twin Cities as well as a crop of young, talented studio dancers willing to learn the art of storytelling through jazz dance. I am lucky to have such an incredible group of dancers who have stuck with me the past few years and it is my dream to continue to grow Collide and the art of “dance musicals” at our new home in the Ritz Theater.
C.L.U. runs at the Ritz Theater through November 22. For more information and to purchase tickets, head to www.collidetheatrical.org.