Moulin Rouge! The Broadway Musical
It has been 17 years since the film came out that revived the entire musical genre. The film took a postmodern of the genre take by using previously released popular songs set in the backdrop of Paris 1899.
The film holds a very special place for me as I always credit it as the film that got me interested in the world of cinema- "Moulin Rouge" was my "Cinema Paradiso". I watched the film 27 times in the movie theatre when it was released and have gone to midnight showings when my local movie theatre used to host it. Baz Lurhmann, the visionary director behind "Moulin Rouge!", created the film as the finale piece to part of his red curtain trilogy that included Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Juliet. Each film contains a theatre motif that reappears throughout the film. In Strictly Ballroom this is the dancing, in Romeo + Juliet it is the poetry, and in Moulin Rouge it is the music.
The musical is expected to open on Broadway in Spring 2019. I will have more to share when it goes on Broadway as I hope to cover it more with insights from people involved with the production.
The moment you walk into the theatre, you're walking into Moulin Rouge. There's the windmill, the elephant, the infinity heart with the Moulin Rouge sign. I was afraid the production design would not come anywhere close to the film because Catherine Martin is such a visionary and creative genius, but Derek MClane, who designed the set and production knocked it out of the park. It is awe-inspiring. The meticulous details and transitions between each set is as if you're transported to a different world each time there's a scenic change. Derek McLane is a Tony and Emmy award winnning designer with a robust list of some of the best scenic designs both seen on stage and on TV, including 2018 Oscars. Check out more about Derek here.
There are so some changes made to the story and many of the songs have been changed, but the major ones are still in-tact, such as "Lady Marmalade", "Your Song", "Come What May", "El Tango De Roxanne", "Sparking Diamonds", with revised "Elephant Love Medley" and "The Pitch". Songs that are sorely missed are "One Day I'll Fly Away" and "The Show Must Go On". Katy Perry's "Fireworks" is a strange choice as a replacement for "One Day I'll Fly Away", especially during a character defining moment.
The entire cast and the creative team behind it did an amazing job and everyone gave it 100%. If you've been following the cast's instagram, you will know that many of the cast members are fans of the film and are excited to be involved to bring this to life.
Aaron Tveit plays a great Christian. I've always loved his voice and I am still keeping my hopes up that when they make "Miss Saigon" the movie, he'll play Chris. Have you guys seen his performance of "Why? God, Why?"- Simply amazing! The character goes through the widest emotional range throughout the show. I'm sure it takes a toll on the actor in a similar way as Dear Evan Hansen, snot and all.
Karen Olivo is a very different Satine than Nicole Kidman's Satine. Karen's Satine is strong, fierce, and knows her worth. Her voice is flawless and she comes off very strong, almost a bit too strong for the character. I understand Karen's making the character her own and female empowerment is very much needed in today's world, however, Satine is trapped in a world where she so desperately wants to escape and I wish there was more vulnerability to her on stage. Nonetheless, it is HER Satine and she is the star of the show. I love every single moment of her presence on stage and her entrance from the trapeze is equally exhilarating as the film's entrance.
The one thing I wish they would change is make "Come What May" the secret love song between Christian and Satine. They use "Your Song" as the secret song instead and also in the finale, which is clearly a choice by the team. There are moments from the film that were made for a stage production that were omitted, such as the entire finale scene with the beautiful and yet tragic petal showers, but as a whole, the show WORKS.
The entire supporting cast is superb and really got in the character for every single song and some seriously choreography by Sonya Tayeh. The Opening Number for Act II is probably my entire week's worth of cardio workout. Special shout outs to Tam Mutu as The Duke, Danny Burstein as Harold Zidler, and Sahr Ngaujah as Toulouse.
The show is an experience from the moment you walk in to curtain call. I can't wait to catch it when it goes on Broadway to see the changes they make! If you're in Boston, catch it now till Aug 19.