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Moulin Rouge Actor Surprised By Reunion With Aurora Teacher And Inspiration: 'This Is Your Victory'

DENVER (CBS4) – As the 10-time Tony Award winning production of Moulin Rouge begins its nearly three week stay at the Buell Theater, one of the actors in the show is also celebrating a reunion with the place he first fell in love with theater. Andres Quintero, the actor who plays "Baby Doll" in the Broadway tour, was raised in Aurora.

There he first discovered his passion for the arts in an Aurora Public Schools theater.

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"(Moulin Rouge) is a show that is for everybody," Quintero told CBS4's Dillon Thomas.

Quintero said he loved how the writers of the production incorporated a history lesson on the original Moulin Rouge in France with modern music heard in clubs in the 90s and early 2000's.

"When you sit down the odds of you knowing the music are very-very high," Quintero said.

Moulin Rouge promises to immerse audiences in the show by bringing parts of the musical into the audience.

The magic of the production may inspire future generations of actors in Colorado to pursue the arts.

Around 2002 Quintero was in that same place. He was a young student who was yet to discover his passion for the performing arts. When he started high school he was introduced to a teacher, and a program, that would change his trajectory.

"My formative years as an artist were in Aurora, Colorado at Rangeview High School," Quintero said. "I was involved in the theater department that was ran by Tammy Strouse."

Tammy Strouse, who used to be the performing arts teacher at Rangeview High, encouraged Quintero to explore his talents both on stage and in the classroom. She not only helped him land his first role in a school performance, but also took him and classmates to see performances at the Buell Theater.

"This is where I grew up seeing Broadway shows," Quintero recalled.

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Just outside of the theater he grew up watching shows, Quintero gave praise to Strouse for helping him fulfill a dream of one day performing on the same stage.

What he didn't know was CBS4's Dillon Thomas found his old teacher, who is now the assistant principal of Rangeview High and had her hiding around the corner. As Quintero spoke about how Strouse inspired him to chase his dreams, she turned the corner and left him speechless.

With tears falling from both of their cheeks, the duo embraced after finally being reunited.

"I'm so proud of you, Andres," Strouse said as the two embraced.

"Oh my god, what are you doing here? I am so happy you are here," Quintero said.

"I am so happy you are here, (too.) I can't wait for the world to see what I've known all these years," Strouse told Quintero.

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Both Strouse and Quintero spent several minutes embracing each other and reflecting on how far he has come since they were together as educator and student in the early 2000s. Quintero told his former teacher she was the reason he followed the arts into a career and thanked her for all the times she took him to shows and auditions.

Strouse said she didn't realize the extent of the impact she had on her former student two decades ago.

"I didn't know, and I am so thankful. It means so much," Strouse said.

"(My success) is your victory," Quintero said.

"No, I am just happy I got to plant a seed because this is all you," Strouse said.

After years of seeing her former student succeed on smaller platforms, Strouse said she was thrilled to bring new students to see the show in hope it inspires them to also follow their dreams.

"This one is going to biggest spectacular of all and I cannot wait to see it," Strouse said.

"I can't believe you are here, this is crazy," Quintero said.

Andres says he is living proof that dreams can come true with hard work, and a mentor by your side.

Quintero said his success should be a sign to teachers that their everyday actions can not only encourage, but also inspire, students to follow their dreams through fruition.

"One small action can change someone's life forever," Quintero said.

Moulin Rouge is in Denver through June 26. Find tickets online.

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