The musical Moulin Rouge, at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, is based upon Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 hyperactive and entertaining film. It celebrates the era of the original Moulin Rouge, which opened in Paris in 1889 as a sexy fantasy club for the rich and high society.
Alex Timbers adroitly adopted the show for the stage, with engrossing stage numbers that integrate romance, a wonderful story, and songs by Elton John, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, the Rolling Stones, Adele, and Phil Collins. The book by John Logan keeps the audience engaged, Catherine Zuber’s colorful period costumes are eye candy, and Sonya Tayeh’s choreography is exciting and exhilarating. Derek McLane’s set establishes the club’s mood from the time audiences walk into the theater.
The show stars Karen Olivo, in a Tony-worthy performance as Satrine, and Aaron Tveit as Christian, lovers who are stunning, melodic, and empathetic characters. Danny Burstein is outstanding as Harold Zidler the ringmaster and club owner. Sahr Ngaujah plays Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the artist who in 1890 produced famous posters advertising the Moulin Rouge. Tam Mutu plays the villainous Duke.
This is a jukebox musical on steroids. The 70 songs, combined with sensational dancers, create a spectacular extravaganza. Justin Levine’s musical supervision and orchestration magnificently and adroitly integrate the songs and dance into the story.
The show’s message is truth, beauty, and freedom, as well as love. Moulin Rouge may not be a musical for everyone, but it is certainly highly recommended.