October 25, 2017

Maids to Order

Emmy winning choreographer Mandy Moore created a fun, surprising number for the 69th Emmys.

It didn’t take long, says Mandy Moore, till “my brain started going wild, as it always does.”

What got her synapses firing was a call from executive producers Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner, asking her to choreograph the opening  number for the 69th Emmys.

Not only would it star Emmys host Stephen Colbert and feature talent from many top shows, the dance would include 12 “handmaids” dressed in red capes and white bonnets like those of the tormented women of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale (which would be named outstanding drama series at the end of the evening).

“They wanted it to feel very showy, like a big production number,” Moore says of the routine, set to “Everything Is Better on TV,” an original song written for the show. “And they wanted it to finish with a kick line.”

But before that big finish was a big reveal: six of the handmaids were men. As the number moved seamlessly from its cold open (shot two weeks before the show at CBS in Studio City) to the live portion at L.A.’s Microsoft Theater, the dancers shed their capes to reveal glittering red costumes showing plenty of leg (and in some cases, underarm hair and a beard).

After three days of rehearsals, Moore sat in the audience on September 17, watching her creation unfold. “From my seat, it looked great,” she says. “Everyone seemed to get the jokes.”

And as expected from a number starring Colbert, those jokes were not only hilarious but often political, as in:

The nightly news might fill you with fears and phobias
Calm yourself by watching this dystopia
Look on the bright side, handmaids, at least your health care’s free
Our future’s always brighter on TV!

Besides her choreography, Moore had another reason to celebrate: the previous weekend, at the Creative Arts Emmys, she’d won her first Emmy Award, on her sixth nomination, for her work on Dancing with the Stars (her other nominations have been for So You Think You Can Dance).

“To be recognized and nominated at all, it’s a little out-of-body,” she says. “Then they call your name, and this is actually happening! You have so many people to thank. It’s not a party of one — a lot of people have been involved in my success.”

Including some comely handmaids — and men.

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 9, 2017

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