MOULIN ROUGE: THE MUSICAL, based on the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film, is way over the top. Seventy-One songs in varying lengths from mere seconds to several minutes. Costumes that are beautiful yet raunchy and sexy and lots of them. Sets and lighting that dazzle the eye at every turn. A large and quite attractive cast bursting with seemingly endless energy. And though some might say the excesses are too much, for this reviewer every single moment thrilled the senses in a way not often felt in the theatre. There was literally nothing with which I could find flaw.
For those of you not familiar with the film, find it online and stream it at once! It will bring you a whole new level of respect for Nicole Kidman. The plot here is basically the same with a few alterations. Christian (Conor Ryan) is a young American who comes to Paris to find himself and instead finds a family in the bohemians he meets at their club of choice, The Moulin Rouge. He falls in love at first glance with the club’s star, Satine (Courtney Reed). She mistakenly thinks he is the Duke of Monroth (David Harris) who the club’s owner, Harold Zidler (Austin Durant) has arranged for her to meet and dazzle into saving the near bankrupt club. The plan works and the Duke is smitten. But the Duke does not like to share his things, especially Satine, whom he considers to be his property. Before the romantic rivalry can come to a head, Satine succumbs to consumption, leaving behind a heart broken Christian.
As Satine, Ms. Reed definitely has the charisma and stage presence to pull off the role of the greatest courtesan in Paris. When she is ‘on’ her every move oozes sensuality. The other member of these star-crossed lovers, Christian, really comes alive with Conor Ryan’s performance. Charming, totally likeable, handsome and blessed with a strong and powerful voice, he is in every way the right match for Satine. David Harris’s portrayal of the Duke is a bit of divergence from the film. Being quite handsome himself, Mr. Harris creates a Duke that is on the uber macho side but can easily and totally charm those in his presence, that is, until he is crossed. In just a moment, he becomes as deadly as a cobra ready to strike.
With a great sense of comedic timing, a powerful voice and a perpetually mischievous twinkle in his eye, Mr. Durant is perfection as the somewhat sleazy but always accommodating owner of The Moulin Rouge. Rounding out the other major roles, Andre Ward as Toulouse-Lautrec and Gabe Martinez as Santiago both get their moments to shine and do they ever. Ward gives a hauntingly beautiful rendition of “Nature Boy” and charms the audience throughout the evening with his beautiful voice and impish grin. At the top of Act Two, Martinez stops the show cold with his electrifying rendition of “Backstage Romance,” a mash-up of of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) and Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” among several other songs.
Director Alex Timbers successfully brings the film’s visual style to the stage while not making a cookie-cutter copy either. The sets by Derek McLane are truly breathtaking made even more so by the ingenious lighting design of Justin Townsend. Everything in this visual Sundae is topped off by the sumptuous and often wonderfully salacious costumes designed by Catherine Zuber.
MOULIN ROUGE is a must-see as shows like this one do not come along all that often. Give yourself a treat and see this amazing musical before it vanishes in the mist. It plays at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood through September 4, 2022 before transferring to the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco from September 8, 2022 through November 6, 2022. It then returns to Southern California playing at the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa from November 9, 2022 – November 27,2022. You can check the show’s website MoulinRougemusical.com for further information.