Top 10 reasons to see 'Moulin Rouge! The Musical' on Broadway
Discover why you can-can't miss this musical spectacular.
Why see Moulin Rouge! The Musical on Broadway? Because you can-can-can! Truly, though, there are plenty of reasons to check out this 10-time Tony Award-winning Best Musical, which has been dazzling audiences at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre since 2019.
Based on the acclaimed Baz Luhrmann movie of the same name, Moulin Rouge! The Musical centers on the bohemian writer Christian, who visits the Moulin Rouge nightclub in Paris and falls into a star-crossed romance with its "sparkling diamond": the showgirl Satine. But even in a place like the Moulin Rouge — where truth, beauty, freedom, and love are celebrated and hedonistic pleasures abound — secrets and suitors threaten the triumph of their love.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical holds nothing back — its characters put everything on the line for love, its director and choreographer keep the stage filled with energetic movement, and its designers turn up the color and glamour to the max. Plus, you'll hear an eclectic catalogue of pop music that will have you all but singing along the entire time. The show-within-a-show in Moulin Rouge! The Musical is called the "spectacular spectacular," and the Broadway show itself lives up to that name, too. Come what may, you've got to make it to this show, and here's why.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical is based on a beloved, award-winning film.
Even if you don't know much about the musical, you might be more familiar with its source material. Moulin Rouge! The Musical is based on the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge!, directed by Baz Luhrmann. In keeping with Luhrmann's signature style, the movie is energetic and lavish in every way, and it became an instant hit. Critics and audiences loved everything from the leading performances (by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman) to the pastiche arrangement of pop songs to the fantastical sets that provided an escape into a welcoming, bohemian world.
The movie was nominated for Best Picture, plus seven other awards, at the 2002 Oscars, and won for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. Even without a Best Picture win, Moulin Rouge! remained beloved and has been named one of the greatest movies of the 21st century thus far. The musical stays faithful to the grandeur and style of the movie, so you'll love it if you love the film, especially since the musical far surpassed its source material awards-wise.
The show won 10 Tony Awards.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical was the most awarded musical of the 2019-2020 season, winning 10 prizes at the 2020 Tony Awards ceremony. In addition to taking home the coveted Best Musical trophy, the show swept all the creative categories it was nominated in, with its costume, lighting, sound, and set design winning, along with its direction, choreography, and orchestrations. Two of Moulin Rouge! The Musical's original stars and Broadway veterans — Aaron Tveit and Danny Burstein — took home awards for their performances, too. Clearly, the Tony voters thought the show was spectacular all around!
With a romance at its center, the show is perfect for date night.
Who doesn't love a good love triangle? The drama of Moulin Rouge! The Musical hinges on one, with two men vying for the attention of the Moulin Rouge's star performer, Satine. She's a courtesan who must sell her love to survive, and the latest buyer is the Duke of Monroth, who promises to financially support her and the nightclub if she stays with him. Things get complicated with the arrival of the poor writer Christian, who instantly falls for her.
Satine knows she can't love him back, but falls anyway, and the two develop a forbidden romance behind the Duke's back. This story about risking everything for love makes Moulin Rouge! The Musical a great date-night show — expect to see plenty of tender moments and romantic duets amid the intrigue.
There are plenty of pop songs that all generations will recognize.
The Moulin Rouge! movie was scored with existing pop songs from artists like Elton John, Madonna, and David Bowie, and the musical is no different. Well, a little different. Nearly all the best-known songs featured in the movie, like "Lady Marmalade," remain in the Broadway show, but tons more have been added. A total of 70 songs feature in Moulin Rouge! The Musical, a few in full, but most in snippets.
Many of these songs are pop hits from the years since the Moulin Rouge! movie's release, giving the show a fresh, contemporary update. Older audiences will still recognize plenty of familiar earworms, like John's "Your Song," The Police's "Roxanne," and Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It?" Younger audiences will have the same experience when they hear songs like Katy Perry's "Firework," Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," and Britney Spears's "Toxic." This diverse music catalogue makes Moulin Rouge! The Musical a fun experience for all ages to enjoy together.
Lots of celebrities have flocked to Moulin Rouge!
Luhrmann's film starred Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman as the central couple, and their performances have become iconic in the years since Moulin Rouge!'s release. You won't see them on stage at Moulin Rouge! The Musical, but you never know who might sit by you in the audience — Kidman and her husband, Keith Urban, came to support the Broadway show in 2019, and they reportedly even sang along a little in their seats.
On stage, though, you will see Broadway favorites putting their mark on the roles. In the role of Christian is Derek Klena, a 2020 Tony nominee for Jagged Little Pill who's also known for shows like Anastasia and Wicked. Ashley Loren plays Satine, and Eric Anderson, known for roles in Waitress and Pretty Woman: The Musical, takes on the role of Harold Zidler made famous by Jim Broadbent in the movie.
The original cast included Aaron Tveit as Christian, Karen Olivo as Satine, and Danny Burstein as Zidler, and all three got Tony nominations. From stage to screen, Moulin Rouge! and its musical adaptation have been consistently star-studded.
You'll feel like you're actually in the Parisian nightclub.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical isn't an immersive show, per se, but you certainly won't feel like you're in New York while you're in the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. The venue has practically been transformed into the Moulin Rouge nightclub, with Derek McLane's set spilling out beyond the stage. A tall red windmill spins to your left, and a large, partial elephant statue — representative of the dressing room where Christian and Satine confess their love during the namesake "Elephant Love Medley" — looks out over the audience from the right.
Furthermore, even before the musical begins, actors appear on stage for a short pre-show, walking about the stage to give the lively feel of a bustling nightclub. Moulin Rouge! The Musical's premium can-can seats, situated right up close to the stage, offer the most immersive experience of this action and the rest of the show, but with plenty of themed decor and action all over the theatre, you'll feel like you, too, are in the Moulin Rouge no matter where you sit.
You can-can-can bet there's plenty of high-energy dancing.
It wouldn't be Moulin Rouge! without can-can dancing, especially since the popular dance originated in the real-life namesake nightclub. A 36-high-kick sequence kicks off (pun intended) the show during its opening number, "Welcome to the Moulin Rouge!" But that's only a small portion of the dancing you'll see. Sonya Tayeh, who got a Tony Award for her Moulin Rouge! The Musical choreography, incorporates all kinds of styles into her explosive routines throughout the show, from jazz to ballroom to ballet. You might find yourself wanting to get up and dance like a Moulin Rouge performer yourself!
Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a visual spectacular (spectacular).
The choreography isn't the only element of this musical that will catch your eye and not let go. There's also the aforementioned sets by Derek McLane, and if you think the red windmill and elephant that greet you are flashy the glitz and glamour only goes up from there once the show begins. The sets bring to life the Moulin stage, backstage dressing rooms, Satine's sumptuous dressing room, and even the Champs-Elysses with plenty of color and sparkling light.
They're matched in splendor by Catherine Zuber's costumes, which are equally colorful, sexy, and utterly rich. Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a maximalist production, perfect for anyone looking for the full extent of Broadway-caliber spectacle and eye candy.
The musical incorporates real turn-of-the-century French history.
We wouldn't have Moulin Rouge! The Musical without the nightclub it's named after. The Broadway show takes place in a fictionalized version of that iconic Parisian venue, which opened in 1889. And some of the show's characters are based on real people associated with the club: emcee Harold Zidler gets his name from real-life Moulin Rouge co-founder Charles Zidler, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, known for creating promotional posters for the club, is fictionalized as a bohemian artist in Moulin Rouge! The Musical.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a show about show business.
If you're a Theatre Kid who's seen backstage drama firsthand, or are someone who just wants a peek behind the curtain of a stage show, Moulin Rouge! The Musical is for you. There's a peppy, hilarious number called "So Exciting! (The Pitch Song)" in which Christian, Satine, Zidler, and their friends make up the plot for a show on the fly for the Duke's approval. The plot is actually a thinly veiled description of Christian and Satine's relationship, and it lets them express their love under cover of "reciting their lines" so the Duke won't notice. Juicy!
There's another number called "Backstage Romance" in which two other performers flirt and dance with each other in secret at rehearsal. Besides all the "showmances," Moulin Rouge! The Musical touches on plenty of other aspects of show business, from jealousy between co-stars to the financial requirements of showrunning to the pure, blissful escapism that being at the theatre can bring. In the show, the Moulin Rouge nightclub is where dreams and passions can run wild, and Moulin Rouge! The Musical provides a similar, joyous escape for its audiences.