A New York Theatre Guide to... Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Here's all you need to know about the long-awaited Broadway stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann's smash hit movie...
Hey sista, go sista, soul sista, flow sista… the doors to the Moulin Rouge are finally open on the Great White Way! Ever since Baz Luhrmann’s iconic 2001 film graced the silver screen, Broadway fans have been begging and pleading for a stage adaptation and they need neither beg nor plead any longer. Thanks to producers Global Creatures and Bill Damaschke, Moulin Rouge! The Musical has evolved from a Broadway fanatic’s fantasy to a fantastical reality. Following the much publicized pre-Broadway try-out in Boston in the summer of 2018, re-opening the grand Emerson Colonial Theatre and playing an extended, sold-out engagement from July 10 through August 19, the production set its sights on New York City. Previews began at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on June 28, 2019, ahead of an official opening tonight, July 25.
What’s it all about?
Featuring a book by Tony Award winner John Logan, whose previous Broadway credits include the widely acclaimed Red and Sting’s The Last Ship, Moulin Rouge! The Musical is set in the bohemian mecca of Montmartre in Paris, France during a period called La Belle Époque at the turn of the twentieth century. The story follows an aspiring American writer and composer named Christian, who has landed in Paris in search of inspiration. He finds it in the form of Satine, a beautiful courtesan, working as “the sparkling diamond” of the infamous nightclub, the Moulin Rouge. Their blossoming romance is forced behind closed doors to become a secret love affair, as the club’s Master of Ceremonies, Harold Zidler, promises Satine to the rich, jealous and controlling Duke of Monroth in return for saving the Moulin Rouge from financial ruin and investing in a new show, penned by Christian alongside his new friend and artist, Toulouse-Lautrec. But Satine is also harbouring another secret that threatens to cut short the pair’s bohemian ideals of truth, beauty, freedom, and love.
Who’s starring in it?
Leading the original Broadway company of Moulin Rouge! The Musical are a host of stage favorites. Aaron Tveit originates the role of Christian, handsome and vulnerable in equal measures. Broadway fans will certainly know him from his starring turns in Next to Normal and Catch Me If You Can, as well as his portrayal of Danny Zuko on Fox’s hugely successful “Grease Live!” in 2016. TV audiences may also recognise him from his recurring roles on the likes of The CW’s “Gossip Girl,” USA Network’s “Graceland,” and CBS’ “BrainDead,” and he also appeared as Enjolras in the 2012 “Les Misérables” film adaptation. Alongside him, Tony Award winner Karen Olivo is giving the performance of a lifetime as Satine. She previously wowed Broadway fans in the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights and the 2009 revival of West Side Story and she’s also well-known for starring as Cassie Reynolds opposite Kathy Bates on NBC's "Harry's Law." Six-time Tony Award nominee Danny Burstein originates the role of Harold Zidler with a flamboyant and wickedly enticing portrayal. Alongside his TV role as Lolly Steinman on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," he is a celebrated Broadway veteran, boasting Tony-nominated turns in Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Golden Boy, Follies, South Pacific, and The Drowsy Chaperone. Rounding out the principal cast are Tony Award nominee Sahr Ngaujah as a committed and engaging Toulouse-Lautrec, an equally menacing yet pompous Tam Mutu as The Duke of Monroth, Ricky Rojas, bringing the comic relief as Santiago, and the astonishingly flexible and mesmerizing Robyn Hurder as Nini.
What’s special about this production?
Where to begin?! Don’t be late for this one. Arrive early and soak up the atmosphere in the auditorium as creatures of the underworld prowl the stage to modern beats, long before the opening number. And speaking of the stage, designer Derek McLane has really outdone himself in terms of the lavish sets both inside and outside of the Moulin Rouge club, making full use of the undoubtedly, exceedingly high budget for the production. Justin Townsend’s dazzling lighting effects and Catherine Zuber’s exquisite costumes make this show a true feast for the senses, whilst choreographer Sonya Tayeh’s ecstatic dance numbers leave the audience breathless, let alone the talented, ample-flesh-baring ensemble. In terms of the music, most of the beloved numbers from the 2001 film have been preserved, but theatregoers can also look forward to new mash-ups and fitting renditions of songs from the past 18 years since the movie’s release. An onslaught of popular hits from the likes of Lady Gaga, P!nk, Adele, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Sia (just to name a few) are cleverly woven into the narrative and although some song choices may raise a tongue-in-cheek chuckle from the audience at times, those cynics are clearly won over by the end of the number, judging by the tumultuous reactions. Simply put, there has never been anything on Broadway that quite lives up to the spectacle of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. The long wait has been worth it, Children of the Revolution!
Who would we recommend it to?
Leave the kids at home for this one, as Moulin Rouge! The Musical is aiming at an 18+ demographic. The atmosphere inside the Al Hirschfeld Theatre is adult, sensual, classy and sexually-charged. Both the male and female dancers (and non-binary characters for that matter) are all scantily clad and there are scenes of a mild sexual nature to boot. It’s the perfect choice for a date night or even a honeymoon destination and if you like your theatre extravagant, loud and pulsating with seduction, then you “can-can” trust us, when we say Moulin Rouge! The Musical is right up your Parisian street!
Moulin Rouge! The Musical Tickets are available now.
(Photos by Matthew Murphy)