All the songs in 'Moulin Rouge! The Musical' on Broadway
Learn about all the chart-topping pop hits that make up this spectacular spectacular.
How wonderful life is when Moulin Rouge! The Musical is in the world. This showstopping Broadway production, based on Baz Luhrmann's beloved 2001 film, has been kicking it at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre since 2019, and the show has picked up 10 Tony Awards to boot.
Fans will recognize not only their favorite characters and movie moments, but their favorite songs, too, and then some. The Moulin Rouge! movie used existing pop hits like "Your Song," "Roxanne," and "Material Girl," and the musical expands on that catalog tenfold with more than 40 pop hits from the 1940s to the 2010s.
In short: Moulin Rouge! The Musical's gift is its song, and this one's for you. Learn more about all the musical numbers in the show and how they use pop songs to tell the fated love story between a writer and a showgirl.
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This article contains mild spoilers for Moulin Rouge! The Musical.
"Welcome to the Moulin Rouge!"
"The Moulin Rouge is a state of mind," nightclub emcee Harold Zidler tells the audience. That state is defined by luxury, spectacle, escape, and love, all of which are on full display in this spectacular opening number. It's impossible not to be in the Moulin Rouge mindset after seeing burlesque and can-can dancers perform in colorful costumes, under vibrant lights, to pulse-pounding music. Most of the major characters, like Zidler, Christian, and the Duke, are introduced in this song.
Short snippets of multiple pop songs are peppered throughout "Welcome to the Moulin Rouge!", ranging from "Burning Down the House" and "Ride wit Me." But the most prominent theme is, of course, the film's banner hit, "Lady Marmalade."
"Truth Beauty Freedom Love"
Christian arrives in Montmarte, Paris with little more than his talent for songwriting — and immediately finds people who can use his help. The artist Toulouse-Lautrec (named for a real person) and the dancer Santiago are trying to write songs for their in-progress musical, but can't come up with the right lyrics: "The hills are alive... with the screams of the proletariat!"
Suddenly, Christian bursts into "The Sound of Music" (with its dreamy original lyrics, here conceived by Christian himself) and instantly befriends the pair. He then gives Lautrec and Santiago a taste of some other songs he wrote, including "Every Breath You Take" and "Never Gonna Give You Up."
As the trio launches into a mashup of Lorde's "Royals" and Fun.'s "We Are Young," they proclaim the bohemian ideals of truth, beauty, freedom, and love.
"The Sparkling Diamond"
In the movie, Nicole Kidman makes her grand entrance as Satine with "Sparkling Diamonds," a mashup of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" and "Material Girl." The musical takes this medley and expands on it. Now called "The Sparkling Diamond," the showstopping number adds the James Bond theme "Diamonds Are Forever," Rihanna's "Diamonds," Beyonce's "Single Ladies," En Vogue's "My Lovin'," and Commodores' "Brick House" into the mix.
"Shut Up and Raise Your Glass"
Christian gets the chance to introduce himself to Satine — but she thinks he's the Duke who's paid for a night with her. She's immediately charmed, though, and for a happy moment before his true identity comes to light, they, along with the rest of the Moulin Rouge patrons, revel on the dance floor to Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance" and P!nk's "Raise Your Glass."
Katy Perry's bright, explosive ballad celebrates everyone's ability to shine. But the musical might make you see the song a little differently. "Firework" becomes a melancholy power ballad for Moulin Rouge! The Musical, as Satine sings it to herself in her dressing room. As she ages and battles consumption, which numbers her days as the Sparkling Diamond, she tries to remind herself to stay strong for the sake of the Moulin Rouge.
In the world of Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Elton John didn't write this romantic tune - Christian did. He sings it for Satine as an audition of sorts, at Lautrec and Santiago's request. But as she starts to sing along, "Your Song" expresses their real, budding interest in each other.
"Your Song" serves the same function in the Moulin Rouge! movie and remains one of the film's best-known numbers. In fact, Luhrmann reached out directly to John to use the song, and John was so thrilled by the idea of Moulin Rouge! that he helped get other artists on board.
"So Exciting! (The Pitch Song)"
This song is adapted from a similar one in the film and is one of the only original songs in both. To hide Satine and Christian's tryst from the Duke when he unexpectedly appears, the lovers — along with Toulouse-Lautrec, Santiago, and Zidler — pretend they're there to pitch the Duke a show, hoping he'll finance it. They come up with the plot on the spot: "A tale of love, and death, and sex, and money, and dancing, and away we go!"
A few elements of the song changed for the musical; for example, the invented show's villian, originally a maharajah, is now a gangster. But the infectiously energetic refrain remains: "So exciting, the audience will stomp and cheer! So delighting, it will run for 50 years!"
"Sympathy for the Duke"
The Duke and Satine sing this song as he arrives at her dressing room once more, finally alone with her. The song mashes up "Sympathy for the Devil" (a nod to the Duke's villainous nature), "Gimme Shelter," and "You Can't Always Get What You Want," all by the Rolling Stones. (Listen closely to the orchestra, and you'll hear a rhythm from Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison" tucked in there, too.)
The lyrics of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" point to Satine's feelings toward the relationship: She doesn't want to be with the Duke, but she needs him to survive. "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you'll find you get what you need," the two sing.
"Nature Boy," a pensive ballad written by eden ahbez, appeared in the Moulin Rouge! film. In the musical, Lautrec sings the song to inspire Christian to pursue true love with Satine. The song's final lines sum up a major theme of the musical: "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."
Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Frank Sinatra, and more have all sung the popular tune since its 1948 release. David Bowie recorded a cover specifically for the Moulin Rouge! movie as a replacement for Cat Stevens's "Father and Son." Luhrmann originally wanted to use that song, but he couldn't get the rights.
"Elephant Love Medley"
The movie version of "Elephant Love Medley" incorporates 10 songs in just over 4 minutes. And if you think that's a lot, just you wait — the musical version fits 19 songs into just over 5 minutes! These include six of the songs from the film version, including "I Will Always Love You," "Heroes," and "Pride (In the Name of Love)."
At the beginning, Christian sings Satine romantic lyrics — "In the name of love, one night in the name of love" — to get her to take a chance on him. Satine retorts with cynical lyrics — "What's love got to do with it?" — because she can't afford to risk everything for love. By the end, though, they give in to passion and sing a soaring duet. The medley ends, as the movie version does, with "Your Song" as the curtain falls on Act 1.
The song is called "Elephant Love Medley" because the lovers sing it in Satine's dressing room, which is housed in a large elephant statue on the Moulin Rouge grounds.
Christian and Satine's "isn't the only backstage romance," Christian divulges at the top of Act 2. The lights come up on Santiago and the dancer Nini, who sing Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" as a steamy duet. Soon, more performers enter the stage, and they rehearse a dance to a medley of "Bad Romance," White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," and Britney Spears's "Toxic."
"Come What May"
In addition to "The Pitch Song," "Come What May" is the only other original song written for Moulin Rouge! The song first appeared in the film, when Christian and Satine profess their love for each other: "I love you until the end of time, come what may."
The song's title comes from a phrase Shakespeare wrote into two of his plays: Twelfth Night and Macbeth. That's fitting, as the song was originally written for a different Luhrmann film, Romeo + Juliet.
"Only Girl in a Material World"
The Duke takes Satine out for a stroll on the swanky Champs-Élysées avenue, offering her riches and luxury beyond her wildest dreams. "I want to make you feel like you're the only girl in the world," he sings to her, riffing on the Rihanna song.
The song ends with a pained reprise of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." Satine doesn't want the Duke's love or money, but with no money and waning health, she sees no other option for survival. "There may come a time when they're no longer calling, and so I must climb just to keep me from falling," she cries.
Now that Satine appears to be with the Duke — who's become suspicious of Christian — a heartbroken and afraid Christian is utterly lost. Zidler and the bohemians have just the solution: absinthe. They egg him on as he drowns his sorrows in liquor and "lives like tomorrow doesn't exist," per Sia's "Chandelier." He doesn't fully succeed, though — Satine appears to him as the Green Fairy, an absinthe-induced hallucination.
"El Tango de Roxanne"
"El Tango de Roxanne" is more than a cover of the Police song. Their "Roxanne" is mashed up with "Tanguera" by Mariano Mores, underscoring a story about a man who falls for a prostitute and gets his heart broken. The Moulin Rouge performers sing, and actually tango, to "El Tango de Roxanne" as a cautionary tale to Christian against pursuing Satine. He lets out all his rage, anguish, and lovesickness about being without her.
"El Tango de Roxanne" is a fan-favorite highlight of both the film and musical. A clip of Tony Award-winning original cast member Aaron Tveit singing the song went viral in 2022.
As if there wasn't enough angst in "El Tango de Roxanne," "Crazy Rolling" turns that factor up a notch. As Christian and Satine separately prepare for the debut of their show at the Moulin Rouge, they separately sing this medley of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy." Satine gathers the strength for what may be her final performance ever, while Christian concocts a plan to die, having lost Satine's love.
"Your Song (Reprise)"
At the last moment, Satine reveals she never stopped loving Christian, singing "Your Song" to convince him to live on. The song turns into a duet as they affirm their love once and for all before the audience.
"Finale (Come What May)"
Though their moment of ultimate happiness is short-lived, Christian resolves to write down his and Satine's love story so the memory will never die. He, Zidler, Lautrec, and Santiago vow to never let go of truth, beauty, freedom, and especially love.
"More More More! (Encore)"
Moulin Rouge! may be a tragedy, but the Broadway show doesn't leave audiences with gloom. The whole cast comes on stage for a final mashup in the upbeat style of the opening number — and with even more can-can dancing. The final beats are nothing short of, well, spectacular.
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Photo credit: Matthew Murphy
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