Welcome to the Moulin Rouge!: Broadway’s Newest Sparkling Diamond

The lights of the Al Hirschfeld dim. Fingers begin to snap. A familiar beat settles over the audience. Four ladies are presented in front of the audience as they sing the early notes of Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade”, and the large and beautiful MOULIN ROUGE! sign makes its way onto the stage, dousing the entire theatre in bright red neon. The highest-anticipated Broadway production of the season has begun, and after only a few moments, the audience is already begging for more.

For years, both musical theatre and film fans alike have been encouraging this widely-adored Baz Luhrmann movie-musical to become adapted for the stage. With director Alex Timbers at the helm, along with choreographer Sonya Tayeh and stars Aaron Tveit, Karen Olivo and Danny Burstein, it was a sure thing it wouldn’t disappoint. After a long journey and a summer 2018 run in Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre, the dazzling spectacular finally made its way to Broadway this year, with its opening night performance taking place on Thursday, July 25, 2019. 

The story is set in Paris, France at the turn of the 20th century. A majority of the plot takes place in the popular nighttime destination, the Moulin Rouge cabaret. The show is centered around a young, charming writer named Christian (played by Tveit) and the star of the nightclub, an ill-fated actress who desires more than what life has presented her with thus far, Satine (played by Olivo.) Both of these actors give awe-inspiring and powerful performances that rightfully earned them the parts they are playing. They meet in unexpected circumstances, and their love story - complete with passion, betrayal, whimsy and more - begins. 

First and foremost, you are introduced to the Moulin Rouge and its dancers, the energetic nightclub owner Harold Zidler (played by Berstein), and to Christian as he toys with the idea of writing a musical for Satine, the club’s “Sparkling Diamond”. But the moment that Satine comes onto the stage, there is a hush over the crowd, and her glimmering ensemble matched with her angelic voice gives chills to Christian (and you, as an audience member) - this is what truly sets the tone for the next two-and-a-half hours.

Without any major spoilers, the main theme of the musical is truth, beauty, freedom and love - but above all things, love. Not only romantic love, but love in all forms - through relationships that touch your heart and music that lifts your spirits and makes you feel like you’re a part of the story yourself, alongside heartbreaking moments and gut-wrenching performances by the entire cast, you will certainly leave the theatre with a smile on your face (and tears on your cheeks.) Moulin Rouge! takes you on a journey that is equal parts magic, artistry and human at its core. Whether or not you have been through something similar to the characters on-stage, you will be able to relate as someone going through your own path of life, wherever it has lead you. 

A major difference between the film version and the stage version of this story is the music. It was known that the film included major hit songs of the time, including Elton John’s “Your Song”, the Police’s “Roxanne” and Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”. Long-time fans of the film wondered whether or not these songs would be used in the musical; while a lot of them were, indeed, kept from the original script, there were many welcome additions of both classic and modern tunes to the score. And by many, we mean a whole bunch. In fact, there were 70 songs (crediting 161 songwriters) in the stage adaptation. While that may seem overwhelming, the way the songs are woven in and out of each other as they tell the plot of our two lovers is astonishing. 

Many may argue that there is no surpassing the original film. But it is important to remember that stage adaptations are just that: adaptations. They are not meant to be exactly like the films they are based off of, and it makes your experience so much more enjoyable when you realize that they are two different experiences. And with songs like Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and Britney Spears’ “Toxic” presented as a mash-up, you will be surprised at how much you appreciate the show’s interpretations of your favorite melodies. The Moulin Rouge! cast album was released on Friday, August 30, 2019, so if you wish to get a preview of what you’re in for before you attend the show, it is highly recommended that you give that recording a listen first!

The scenic design is straight out of a sparkling storybook. The rouge-colored, velvety walls and overhead, shimmering twinkle lights make the world around you completely immersive. You will recognize iconic movie landmarks that are placed at the right and left sides of the theatre: the Elephant where Satine’s dressing room is located, and the Windmill that overlooks the musical’s love story just as the audience does. Throughout the show, there are also many additional icons, such as Paris’ Eiffel Tower and the neon “L’amour” sign that can be found behind Christian’s apartment. There are gorgeous scenic backdrops and magical stage transformations that will, again, make you feel like you are immersed in turn of the century Paris.

The intense emotions that you feel during this production are truly indescribable. Every minute that you are present inside the theatre is a minute that you will fall in love with, guaranteed. Tickets are available now through July 2020 on Ticketmaster.com.