Moulin Rouge! The Musical Is a Terrific Jukebox Extravaganza

Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade
Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! captivated audiences worldwide with its cover of popular songs, colorful scenes, and over-the-top editing and style. The film is based on the actual cabaret in Paris, which is now a tourist attraction, and with all of its visual and audio pizzazz, it’s a no-brainer that it was adapted into a stage musical. Moulin Rouge! The Musical is an out-of-this-world show that takes the jukebox musical formula to a whole other level with elaborate sets, vibrant outfits, fabulous dance choreography and playful characters.

For fans of Baz Luhrmann‘s Moulin Rouge!, the musical’s story still follows Christian, a writer who falls for Satine, the Sparkling Diamond of Moulin Rouge. Instead of a British background, he is from Ohio in the United States and moves to France and meets fellow Bohemians, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Santiago, the Argentinean.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

So Many Hit Songs!

Let’s get this out of the way. Even though Moulin Rouge! The Musical has a similar story and uses a few of the songs from the film, it’s a brand new repackaged experience. The musical really takes advantage of the jukebox format, and the music licensing team has been busy! With the musical coming out years after the film, it incorporates more recent hit songs. Some songs from the film are missing in the musical, especially Hindi Sad Diamonds, but it makes up for it by using a whole lot of other pop songs in clever ways. These include songs from pop artists like Sia, Britney Spears, Adele, and more. When the song’s beat starts, it was fun for me trying to predict the next song. Additionally, the song choice went well with what’s the flow of the story.

The film is known for covering songs and mixing them into one song. With the musical, it takes that to a whole other level. For example, the film’s opening, “Can Can,” combines Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Lady Marmalade.” The stage musical’s opening song, “Welcome to the Moulin Rouge!,” combines Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” Outkast’s “So Fresh, So Clean,” Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want),” Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House,” David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” and bits of Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie.” The trend continues throughout the whole musical, resulting in songs being packed like sardines in a can.

Conor Ryan as Christian, Gabe MartÍnez as Santiago, André Ward as Toulouse-Lautrec and Austin Durant as Harold Zidler. Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

The Production Has Raised the Bar

The show has outdone itself with the special effects, dancing and sets. Each time the production switches out the background sets, it’s always a sight to behold with a new scene. The team has used a lot of cool effects to give audiences a really immersive experience including p̶r̶o̶j̶e̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶m̶a̶p̶p̶i̶n̶g̶,̶ ̶g̶i̶a̶n̶t̶ ̶s̶c̶r̶e̶e̶n̶s̶ ̶d̶i̶s̶p̶l̶a̶y̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶m̶o̶v̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶b̶a̶c̶k̶g̶r̶o̶u̶n̶d̶s̶,̶ dynamic lighting and practical props and sets. The dancing and choreography are wonderful, and it’s a frantic display of entertainment.

The cast has done a wonderful job including getting the crowd pumped. Conor Ryan captures Christian, the dreamer who brings a sense of innocents and naivety, and Courtney Reed as Satine is as sparkling as a diamond with how she electrifies the crowd. The standout is Austin Durant as Harold Zidler, the owner of the Mouline Rouge venue. His performance in “Chandelier” was fabulous and he is able to convey a sympathetic, comedic and commanding character. The rest of the cast is just as fantastic as they bring so much energy and passion into their roles.

Final Reaction

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a terrific stage production with beautiful sets, sizzling choreography, and catchy pop songs. The addition of a lot of pop songs can be overwhelming for some, but it’s a fantastical show from beginning to end that will convert many into the wonders of stage musicals.

Tickets are available on BroadwayInHollywood.com or Ticketmaster.com.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is now playing in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre now through September 4, 2022, with shows Tuesday – Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 pm & 8 pm and Sunday at 1 pm & 6:30 pm. Tickets are available starting at $39. The show has a parental advisory for children ages 12 and up, but I would go up a bit higher due to the subject matter of a cabaret! The running time is 2 hours and 45 minutes including intermission.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical will also be coming to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa from November 9 to 27, 2022. Individual tickets start at $31 and are available on www.SCFTA.org.

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