Our Paris Contributor Michael Pereira found time the other day to ask the dashing Alexis Loizon some questions for BroadwayWorld. Alexis is currently starring as Danny Zuko in Grease at the Mogador Theatre.

1.What's your background? Where do you come from? How did you get to Paris? Did you train at any schools?

I grew up in the south of France, near Avignon, until I graduated from High School. I did a Baccalauréat Litteraire (A Baccalauréat is a diploma awarded by the French Ministry of National Education), which seemed to be the closest thing to an artistic diploma. After that, I went to Paris to purse being an actor and enrolled in Les Cours Florent which is a private French drama school in Paris created in 1967 by François Florent. At first I was only interested in being an actor with the goal of being only in theater or movies. However The Lion King was playing at Theatre Mogador that year and it was a revelation to me. At that time, Le Cours Florent had a dance section so I also enrolled in that. There I learned how to dance and express myself through movement. At the end of that year, we had to perform Grease for the school. I am quite curious so I auditioned for the role of Danny and I got the part. I worked really hard on my dancing and singing to be as good as the role required.

2. Who are your biggest influences? Mentors, Teachers, Co-Workers

When I was a kid I was obsessed with two major pop culture figures: Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. I was mesmerized by their charisma; the way crowds would go crazy when they appeared. In a way I studied this phenomenon. I tried to understand how they would capture the audience's attention. I discovered it's a matter of rhythm and feeling the room/theatre/stadium. What I got from watching their videos over and over is that you have to build a relationship with the audience.

Apart from that, I am grateful to my dance teacher at Les Cours Florent, Michel Durand. He believed in me, he taught me everything he could and most importantly helped me discover the musical theater world. After seeing The Lion King at Mogador Theatre, I went to West End and Broadway to learn more.

3. Tell me a little about this experience in Grease. Triumphs, Challenges, audition process, discovering the role, etc

Performing the role of Danny Zuko was one of my biggest goals. I had two dream roles: Gaston in Beauty and the Beast and Danny in Grease.
When Stage Entertainment announced they would produce Grease at Mogador I felt the same thing I felt when I heard about Beauty and the Beast in Paris 4 years ago. I was excited and terrified at the same time. I gave everything I could at the auditions. I took dance classes, singing lessons, acting training. I wanted to be the best version of myself. I knew exactly what I wanted to show to the production team. I wanted to present a mixture of Travolta and me. I knew I was taking a risk because the production team and the director didn't want anyone to imitate the actors from the movie. Travolta was my idol so I was always imitating him; therefore I have always felt that Danny lived in me. I felt my job was to convince them that I could bring some kind of nostalgia to the role without imitating. I felt the public would like to see that when they'd come to see the show, because let's face it, everyone wants a bit of Travolta in Grease.

I said to myself you want to bring Travolta then you have to work really hard on the character... the groove, the aura and with your Sandy. You're not a Danny without the right Sandy. So during the auditions, I worked a lot with Alyzée Lalande to find the chemistry. I knew at first sight that she would be Sandy, so we trained together in preparation for the auditions. The audition process was long, more than a month, 10 rounds for Alyzée and I, making puzzles with everyone, the pink ladies, the T-Birds, but when I got the call from the casting director that I got the role I was so relieved!

Alexis Loizon

The first days of rehearsals, the crew, the cast, everyone were so involved in the show. We gave our best all the time. I'm really happy that the production and the creative team decided to work with us in the process of finding the right tone for the roles, especially for Danny and Sandy. Alyzee and I knew exactly the balance we wanted to bring to the parts and they trusted us. It was really nice to be treated with such respect.

When you do a role like Danny or Sandy I feel that everyone in the theatre is unconsciously waiting for you because John Travolta and Olivia Newton John were so iconic 40 years ago. It's a challenge to bring something fresh to those parts. We could feel the pressure but I have accepted it because people have the expectation to feel what they felt when they saw the movie for the first time. This thought keeps me motivated to give my best on stage and not disappoint anyone. I think people like what we are doing and that the greatest reward.

4. What advice would you give your younger self?

Keep doing things with your heart because that's the best way to remain happy...if you're not happy I believe you can't be a good artist. It is our job as artists to give to the audience and that demands a lot.
Keep working hard on your artistic side. Keep on working on your singing, acting, dancing and stay curious. Go to museums, watch movies, read books, know your craft.
Don't be afraid to say no, wait for the right thing for you... Don't do something just because you want a job (that's what Hugh Jackman said to me 2 months ago and that's the best thing I could hear from that gentleman. I love him).
Keep taking care of your body for it's your instrument. People pay to see you performing on stage so don't disappoint them. Respect the audience.
Don't take anything for granted. Stay humble. Listen to your mom. If your dad says, "You're acting like a jerk." give it a thought ha-ha.

5. Do you have any rituals before the show?

It depends on the show but when it's very physically demanding like Danny, I have a work out routine in my dressing room. Also I always like to share a moment with my partners. Always. If I don't see them, I feel like something's missing. We always do a "Toi toi" and "A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom"

6. What is your favorite moment in the show?

My favorite moment in the show would be the gym scene. It's always a blast to do it. This is where Danny is the clumsy. For the first time he drops his armor to try get Sandy back or at least he tries and makes a fool of himself in front of the Jocks. We also always get a big laugh when Eugene comes on stage. Alexandre Faitrouni is genius when it comes to comedy. I love it, it's the only scene I allow myself to laugh because everyone sees it's impossible not to.

7. What is next after Grease?

I'm producing my first movie "Loup y es-tu?". It's a horror movie, very spooky like "The Conjuring "or "The Others" those are my influences. We're supposed to shoot in late May / early June so at the end of Grease I'll be busy with postproduction and all that. I'm really excited to go back to making movies. Being in a musical has been absolutely great but it keeps me busy for the all the time and it's pretty hard to do your own projects. Also, I'm finishing writing my first play.

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From This Author Michael Pereira

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