Paul McGill's Gonna Live Forever
Paul McGill in "Fame" (Saeed Adyani)
Triple threat Paul McGill, one of the brightest stars in the new remake of Fame (and one of the “Broadway Babies” from DS’s 2007 July/August issue), has had the kind of career every Broadway hopeful dreams about. The Pittsburgh native started training in tap, jazz, ballet and tumbling at age 3, and later added acting and voice classes to his schedule. By his junior year of high school, he’d landed his first Broadway musical, La Cage aux Folles. Paul moved to NYC for the gig and enrolled at the Professional Performing Arts School (where the original Fame was shot!). In 2006 he earned the coveted role of Mark in the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line, and shortly before the show closed, he discovered that he’d won the part of Kevin in Fame. We asked Paul to document the shooting of the hot new film for DS. Read on to find out more about Paul’s adventures on the set—including a super-emotional moment with legend Bebe Neuwirth! —Margaret Fuhrer
Thursday, December 4
It’s my first day of shooting! We film the “audition” dance sequences today, along with a few dance scenes that jump around in time—I transform from a sophomore to a freshman over the course of the day. I’m not used to shooting out of order, since I come from a theater background. It’s something I’ll have to adjust to.
Wednesday, December 10
I’ve been shooting with Bebe Neuwirth for a week, and today is my final day on set with her. Our early small talk has turned into genuine conversation by now. When the cameras are off, we laugh and play and dance around. When the cameras are on, we make eye contact and communicate. The things we’ve discussed build my respect for her as a performer and as a person.
After lunch, we do a close-up shot of my face. I have no lines, but am supposed to look sad and upset. When they call “rolling,” Bebe, who is off-camera, begins a heart-wrenching improvised speech, creating a scenario in which she’s the first one to tell me that I’ve broken my back—as I really did during the Chorus Line run—and might never dance again. It strikes a chord. I’m broken, and it translates to the screen. Immediately after they call “cut,” she holds a Post-it to her forehead that reads, “They made me say it!” and flashes a huge apologetic smile. I smile back at her with understanding. I want to hug her. It amazes me that she took the time to think of me as a person and not just an actor. It’s great when you find out that someone you have idolized your whole life is even more awesome in person. I’ll never forget this week with Bebe!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I guess 5 a.m. start times are standard in show business. Exhaustion is setting in already. Good thing our two-week winter break starts tomorrow!
As of yesterday, we’ve filmed 12 hours of footage for what will ultimately be a two- or three-minute lunch scene. We’ve been in the same outfits for the past four days, crammed into a middle-school cafeteria in Pasadena. It’s getting a bit frustrating, but we find ways to entertain ourselves without getting into too much trouble.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Anna Maria Perez de Tagle and Paul McGill in "Fame" (Saeed Adyani)
Winter break was perfect. It was great to be back home in NYC. I feel such overwhelming gratitude and appreciation for where I currently am in my life.
These next two weeks are going to be intense. We’re filming graduation, then going straight into shooting Halloween. Two huge productions—but they’ll be exciting, too!
It’s freezing out, and one thing I have to remember is to keep my muscles warm on set. Deidre Goodwin told me stories about learning that lesson the hard way when she was filming Chicago—you just never know when they’re going to say, “Okay. GO.”
Today we dance for 12 hours straight with one lunch break and one five-minute break. And guess what? I get to wake up bright and early to do the same thing again tomorrow! Although it’s very difficult, I love it and am learning so much about movies and Hollywood—I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.
You can see the Hollywood sign from this school where we’re filming. Magic.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
We film the karaoke scene today with Megan Mullally and Kelsey Grammer. What a ball! My face and stomach hurt so badly from laughter at the end of the day. Megan is a nonstop talker; Kelsey is quieter but strikes with wit.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
It’s our last day on set in L.A. and everyone’s emotions are out of control. What an experience this has been in Tinseltown. I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone!
A German TV crew arrives to do an interview with me and some of the other cast members. We have the brilliant idea to pretend that we hate each other and are all spoiled divas. Paul [Iacono] and Kay [Panabaker] play dueling DJs with their laptops, and Asher [Book] counts out $100 bills from his per diem. The interviewer is weirded out and awkward. “Let’s just start rolling, then,” she says. We all crack up and let her in on the joke. I love this cast.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Finally, we arrive for our shooting days in NYC! When I get to my trailer, it’s parked outside of my apartment building. Perfect. We do some filming at the park where I used to hang out in high school, on 45th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues. It’s like going back to my childhood.
After we finish, we head over to Times Square to film a scene from freshman year. BAM! The energy that you get from this city is invigorating. Everything is so alive here!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
It’s the final day on set before wrapping the film. Luckily for me, the last scene I have to shoot is also my most challenging. There aren’t any lines, but there are plenty of emotions. I give it my all.
It’s sad to see everyone go, but I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished together. I’m eternally grateful for this amazing chapter in my life, short as it was (I still can’t believe that we completed all the rehearsals and shooting in just three months!). All in all, I’m coming out of this movie a little closer to knowing who I am and who I want to be.
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
Daphne Lee is a queen, and not just in the "OMG Girl Boss Alert" sense of the word. She's an actual queen—a beauty queen. Crowned Miss Black USA in August, she's been doing double duty as she continues to dance with the Memphis based dance company, Collage Dance Collective. Lee's new title has given her the means to encourage other black girls and boys to pursue their dreams, while also pursuing dreams of her own. The scholarship money awarded with the pageant title will assist her as she earns a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Hollins University.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.
Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!