Reasons to see 'Moulin Rouge! The Musical' on Broadway
Discover why you can-can-can't miss this 10-time Tony Award-winning jukebox musical adaptation of Baz Luhrmann's iconic 2001 film at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.
How wonderful life is when Moulin Rouge! is in the world. Baz Luhrmann first brought his tragic, star-crossed love story to life in his Oscar-winning 2001 film. He packed the story with enough pop songs, drama, and star power — in the form of Ewan McGregor as the lovesick writer Christian and Nicole Kidman as the “Sparkling Diamond” courtesan Satine — that feel impossible to replicate. And yet, the 2019 Broadway musical adaptation does.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical allows you to do one crucial thing you can’t through a screen: enter the title nightclub for yourself. A 360-degree design concept makes the theatregoing experience nearly immersive, and explosive songs, choreography, and performances only add to the thrill.
No wonder the show won 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, in 2021. We were all looking for an escape from the real world — and this is still it.
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Moulin Rouge! The Musical is the closest thing there is to an immersive Broadway show.
"The Moulin Rouge is a state of mind," nightclub emcee Harold Zidler says in the opening number. That state of mind is defined by unabashed opulence and vibrancy, and the musical's designers took that and ran with it. You're awash in neon, gold, and velvet the minute you enter the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, as the entire interior is decorated to resemble the title nightclub. Think cherry-colored drapes, a spinning red windmill, a life-size elephant statue, and a gigantic glowing sign bearing the Moulin Rouge name. Put on the red light, indeed.
And be sure to arrive early for the 15-minute pre-show to get an early glimpse of the nightclub performers and patrons — including main characters — dancing, chatting, and even sword-swallowing! Like a nightclub, the theatre feels like a place that's lively and bustling even when you're not there.
You'll hear pop songs take on entirely new meanings.
A jukebox musical is most successful when its creators pick songs with lyrics that naturally fit the plot. But even better is when, without changing a single word, those songs adopt entirely new meanings within the context of that plot.
The best example in Moulin Rouge! The Musical is Katy Perry's "Firework," a joyful, upbeat self-acceptance anthem. Here, it's an anguished power ballad, sung by an aging and frail Satine mustering up the strength to keep up the Sparkling Diamond facade for the sake of the financially strapped club.
"Firework" is a highlight of Act 1, matched by the one-two punch of madness-tinged torch songs in Act 2: "El Tango De Roxanne" immediately followed by "Crazy Rolling." I'm not the biggest fan of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," but the intense, desperate Moulin Rouge! duet that blends that song with Adele's "Rolling in the Deep"? Exhilarating. It's constantly in my Spotify rotation, and it's even better live. All three are songs you don't just hear, but feel in your entire body.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical makes a time-honored tale feel fresh.
A poor writer falls in love with an ultimately unattainable performer in a hedonistic, bohemian landscape. Did I just describe Cabaret, Rent, or Moulin Rouge!?
Seriously, though, they may all draw from the same concept of tragic romance, but that's not a bad thing. Every one of these shows remains a fan-favorite success in its own right for its unique take on the tale. Moulin Rouge! The Musical is particularly good at bringing disparate time periods together. Centuries-old music isn't the only thing with the power to animate a centuries-old love story — our current pop lexicon can, too (mixed with seven total decades' worth of mainstream hits).
All these musicals end with the performer giving the writer the same directive: "Tell my story." And we do. We tell it over and over again across the years, and it's newly captivating every time.
Get tickets to Moulin Rouge! The Musical on Broadway.
From the design to the musical catalog to the near-3 hours of sheer energy, Moulin Rouge! The Musical is truly one of the most spectacular (spectacular) shows on Broadway. Surrender to that spectacle, and you'll love the show. Voulez-vous venir au Moulin Rouge ce soir?
Get Moulin Rouge! The Musical tickets now.
Photo credit: Casey Cott and Courtney Reed in Moulin Rouge! The Musical. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)
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