Amy Quanbeck entered the world kicking and crying.
The actor, singer and dancer has made a Broadway career of the kicking and tried to minimize the tears.
The Minneapolis native and Wayzata High School graduate is part of the high-stepping company of "Moulin Rouge! The Musical," the splashy jukebox musical whose Broadway tour kicks off a three-week Minneapolis run Wednesday.
"I started dancing at 3, although I'm not sure if it's truly dancing," Quanbeck said from Chicago, where the "Moulin" tour has been since February before heading to Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre. "From before I could remember, this is all I've always wanted to do."
Also the dance captain of the show that won 10 Tonys in 2020, Quanbeck and the cast shimmy, tango and cancan to 75 musical numbers, including popular tunes from the likes of Beyoncé, Adele, Rihanna, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.
Film to stage
Based on Baz Luhrmann's popular 2001 film, "Moulin" is set in 1899 at a Parisian cabaret where singer Satine loves composer Christian but whose hand has been promised by the cabaret owner to a wealthy duke.
The complicated love triangle serves as a vehicle to showcase musical extravagance, and Quanbeck is here for all of it.
"It's spectacular, and I get to maintain the integrity of the dance," Quanbeck said, adding that Sonya Tayeh's choreography is "challenging, ferocious, athletic and dynamic."
Born in Minneapolis to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon mother and a father who works as a branch manager for a tech company, Quanbeck grew up in a musical household. Thomas Quanbeck, her dad, used to sing in the St. Olaf Choir.
When she was in grade school, she earned a spot as Clara in the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at the Orpheum. It's the same theater where she will be playing.
"I've been all over the country and even to Canada with shows, but this will be my first time playing Minneapolis," Quanbeck said.
After high school, where she was on the dance team, Quanbeck studied dance at the University of California, Irvine. There she learned under the guidance of legendary dancer and choreographer Donald McKayle, marrying the pizazz-y movements of dance teams with quieter studio dance.
That preparation set her up for success, and right out of college she landed a role as assistant dance captain and swing, or understudy for ensemble roles, in the national tour of "Wicked." She was with the show for three years.
"It was super fulfilling and exciting," Quanbeck said. She earned her union card with "Wicked," learned about the business and also met her future husband, Jonathan Shew, while on tour with the show. He was an understudy for prince Fiyero.
Feet back on the ground
After such an auspicious start, Quanbeck moved to the Big Apple, eyes still bright.
"It's a hard business and craft and New York is especially hard when you're just starting out," Quanbeck said. "Coming from 'Wicked,' I was set up to be in a great place, but then I started auditioning."
Rejection is crushing for everyone, but it's an occupational hazard for performers. Quanbeck learned not to take it personally, but that's still a hard lesson.
"Not every part is for you — and sometimes it's not about what you can and can't do, but about fit," she said.
Still, she has some poignant memories.
"It's a challenging city," Quanbeck said. "You sometimes do laundry in the rain. You get groceries and carry them up flights of subway steps."
There also has been a lot of joy. She was a swing and dance captain for the national tour of "Dirty Dancing." She made her Broadway debut as a swing in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." And she was dance captain of Broadway's "The Cher Show."
Can Broadway choreography be in her future?
"You develop a reputation and skills, and go from there," Quanbeck said. "That's a natural evolution."
During the run of "Moulin," she hopes to take her castmates to her old haunts.
"The lakes, definitely," Quanbeck said. "I would love to take them to a cabin but Lake Vermilion might be too far. But we'll see. It'll be fun to be back."
'Moulin Rouge! The Musical'
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.
When: 7:30 p.m. Tue.-Wed., 1 & 7:30 p.m. Thu., 8 p.m. Fri., 2 & 8 p.m. Sat., 1 & 6:30 p.m. Sun., 7:30 p.m. Ends June 5.
Tickets: $50-$149. 1-800-982-2787 or hennepintheatretrust.org.