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Sunday, April 14, 2024

“I’m Just Ken”: The Spectacular Showstopper that Stole the Oscars spotlight

The stage was set, the dancers were ready, and anticipation was high for the showstopping number at Sunday’s Oscar telecast. Choreographer Mandy Moore, renowned for her work on Taylor Swift’s world tour and film musicals, was tasked with bringing “I’m Just Ken” to life, a performance that promised to be nothing short of spectacular.

With sixty-two dancers in tow, rehearsals began early in the week, but it wasn’t until Friday that Ncuti Gatwa and Slash, of Guns N’ Roses fame, made their appearances. Despite the delayed arrivals, Moore remained undeterred, confident in her ability to orchestrate a memorable performance.

Expectations soared as rumors circulated about shirtless backup Kens and promises of an “absolutely bananas spectacle” from Mark Ronson, one of the song’s composers. While the backup Kens remained fully clothed, Moore’s troupe, led by Oscar-nominated actor Ryan Gosling, delivered a visually stunning rendition of the song.

Gosling, who portrayed Ken in the film “Barbie,” was not only adorned in a pink sequin suit but also contributed live vocals and provided creative input for the performance. It was his idea to begin the song in the audience, symbolically representing Ken’s position as the second choice behind Barbie, portrayed by Margot Robbie.

Incorporating Ronson, fellow composer Andrew Wyatt, and a group of dejected Kens into the number, Gosling’s vision extended to involving the film’s director, Greta Gerwig, and his co-star America Ferrera in the action.

Moore embraced Gosling’s ideas while adding her own touches, including a nod to the classic musical “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” with a Busby Berkeley-style sequence featuring giant cutouts of Barbie’s face. Despite the complexity of the choreography and the logistical challenges of a circular stage, Moore and her team rose to the occasion.

With only a few rehearsals under their belt and last-minute additions like giant Barbie doll heads, the pressure was on to deliver a flawless performance. Gerwig’s vision of getting the entire audience involved added to the excitement, with a recorded video urging attendees to participate.

Simu Liu, who played a Ken in the film, joined Gosling onstage and attested to the rapid pace at which the performance came together. Despite initial nerves, the Kens rallied together and pulled off the performance with exhilaration and pride.

In the end, “I’m Just Ken” stole the spotlight at the Oscars, showcasing Moore’s choreographic prowess and the collective talent of the performers involved. It was a testament to teamwork, creativity, and the ability to overcome challenges in pursuit of artistic excellence.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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