Photo Source: Playbill
Moulin Rouge! The Musical premiered in Boston this summer at the Emerson Colonial Theater. It is based on the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film of the same name that starred Nicole Kidman and Ewan Mcgregor. The story centers around a love affair between a bohemian writer (Christian) and a courtesan promised to a wealthy man (Satine), with all of this taking place in the famous Moulin Rouge nightclub. The musical is true to the original plot save some minor plot details. The original movie had a score jam packed with famous pop songs, for example Kidman’s character Satine performs a stunning rendition of Material Girl by Madonna. The musical version brings the same energy and score as the original with a few added songs.
The musical is headed by three Broadway veterans. Karen Olivo is a Tony winning actress, best known for her work in In The Heights, West Side Story, and Hamilton. She gives a stunning performance as Satine, she commands the room with her powerful vocals. I could not take my eyes off of her for the entire performance. Playing her love interest, Christian, is Aaron Tveit. He is best known for playing Enjolras in Les Miserable, and for starring in Next to Normal and Catch Me If You Can on Broadway. His portrayal of Christian is filled with emotion and his singing is phenomenal. Danny Burstein from Fiddler on the Roof and Cabaret also gives an entertaining performance as Harold Zeitler the eccentric owner of the Moulin Rouge. I do have to give a shoutout to Tam Mutu who gives a chilling performance as the villainous Duke.
The set is absolutely breathtaking.The Emerson Colonial Theater was recently refurbished and it looks beautiful inside. The stage is decorated extravagantly in red and gold neon lights. Red velvet and fairy lights elegantly drape the ceilings. The iconic red windmill from the real Moulin Rouge nightclub is also recreated on stage, and it is fully functioning. The theater lights are dimmed and the glow of the red neon lights give a very sensual, mysterious vibe. You will have no problem believing you are in a lavish Parisian nightclub.
The ensemble performers were great. The backbone of a good musical is great ensemble and they surely fulfilled that. The ensemble choreography was well done and eye catching. The talent of each ensemble member shines throughout the show. The opening group numbers for both the first and second act showcase the incredible talent present in this cast. They were showstopping; watching just those numbers was worth the price of admission.
This production is set to appear on Broadway after its run in Boston, and the show is still being tweaked. This is a good thing because I cannot say that the show was perfectly polished. A few of the songs added felt awkward. For example, the production added a scene where Ziegler, Satine, and the ensemble sing Shake it Out by Florence + the Machine. It was executed somewhat sloppily and needed some changes. While the show could use some polishing it does have the flair and excitement needed to be a great show on Broadway.
Despite this, the show has many wonderful aspects to it. The opening number where the ensemble sings Lady Marmalade hooks you in, and you stay hooked for the rest of the act. The music was mostly composed of pop music mashups that are sure to be crowd pleasers. Overall the production is stunning and filled with energy and excitement. I highly recommend this musical, though I must advise that there are mature and sexual themes throughout the show so I would not advise you to bring young children to the show.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical ran at the Emerson Colonial Theater until August 19th and is coming to New York City soon.