Published on August 25th, 2023 | by Andrew Bistak
Moulin Rouge! The Musical Review (Melbourne Australia – 2023) @MoulinMusicalAU @Alinta_Chidzey
Summary: Moulin Rouge! The Musical? More like Moulin Rouge! The Musical Perfection!
The vivacious production of Moulin Rouge! The Musical which was inspired by the blockbuster Baz Lurhman film is back in this larger than life Australian Broadway production that is now touring Melbourne (again), followed by Sydney and finally Perth. While spectacular in nature, at its core this performance is a dubbed a jukebox musical as it collects and melds some of the words best songs together and lavishes delivers them to perfection, including an awesome rendition of the Can Can. Additional songs such as Katy Perry’s Firework or Sting’s Roxanne adds to the storytelling and carries an emotional weight that helps draw you in.
In terms of story, Moulin Rouge! The Musical is set in the City of Love, more specifically the Montmartre Quarter of Paris, during the Belle Epoque at the turn of the 20th century. The setting of Paris is apt as the story behind Moulin Rouge! The Musical is one about love and revolves around a young handsome composer from America called Christian (Des Flanagan) who falls in love with the beautiful Satine (Alinta Chidzey), a dancer from the cabaret club called Moulin Rouge where all your dreams come true. Christian is joined by fellow Bohemians (and comics) Toulouse-Lautrec (Bert LaBonté) and Santiago (Ryan Gonzalez) whose love for this ideology (truth, beauty, freedom, love) in music brings them together to create the next big hit.
It is here where they meet the eccentric owner of the Moulin Rouge, Harold Zidler (Simon Burke) who unwittingly introduces this trio to the suave and powerful Duke (James Bryers) in order to get his backing for their new musical, although there is a catch. This catch falls on Satine who sacrifices herself to become the Duke’s mistress but her heart is solely with Christian. Cue in the other four dancers of Moulin Rouge (aka the Lady Ms), Nini (Samantha Dodemaide), Arbia (Kahlia Davis), La Chocolate (Chaska Halliday) and Babydoll (Christopher J Scalzo) where relationships, friendships are born, including deceit and drama which makes this story very poignant. More importantly, the casting of this Australian production is on par and cannot be faulted with everyone delivering their best performances, particularly with the powerful amalgam and rendition of modern songs behind this production.
Further, Moulin Rouge! The Musical is not your standard musical and while the music and songs behind this show are perfect in every sense of the word, the show also features some very memorable choreographed dance numbers, especially when the ensemble is involved and even acrobatics, sword swalloers that takes this musical to new heights. Choreography Sonya Tayeh creates some of the best routines that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing as a theatre goer that just adds to the glitz and glam of this over the top performance. Best of all, the energy alluded by the cast is quite infectious as they successfully channel this energy into the crowd, including the more emotional parts of the story.
A Special mention should be made for both Des Flanagan and Alinta Chidzey whose performances were the highlights in this production and their voices, onstage chemistry and dancing is impeccable as they cast their spell on the audience. Complementing them were the Lady Ms who all had a strong stage presence, including equally excellent vocals and dance moves. Their rendition of Lady Marmalade will become the definitive version of this song.
Lastly, Bert LaBonté Ryan Gonzalez deliver quite a few scene stealers, including comedy and like the others, they were a pure joy to watch as they performed remarkably. Speaking of scene stealers, Simon Burke as Harold Zidler was oozing with over the top flamboyance and had the audience in hysterics. With that said, his over the top circus ringmaster club owner performance would give Gene Wilder from Willy Wonka the Chocolate Factory a run for his money. However on the flipside, his almost father-daughter relationship with Satine was equally moving.
In terms of set design, lighting and special effects… wow.
Derek Mclane (Set Design) and Catherine Zuber (Costumes) should be commended because the attention to detail is mesmerising as they successfully captured a moment in time surrounding the Montmartre Quarter of Paris with a huge touch of modernity thrown into the mix, including the glitzy yet dark club of Moulin Rouge… that even had chandeliers. Additionally, the use of lights, moving sets, pyrotechnics, and stage smoke really draws you into this musical and makes you forget that you are just another audience member. The Eiffel Tower is even part of this production as well as are elephants and a glitzy windmill! Without the spoiling the ending, the show ends with a very memorable bang, including some fantastic renditions of the world’s best song hits. Additionally costumes suit this time period perfectly, including some of the more sensual and risqué costumes that the cast really take to new heights. Given the high quality production values and equally talented cast, Moulin Rouge! The Musical is indeed the must see musical of 2023.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical is one of the most extravagant Broadway musicals on all levels that boasts an exceptionally talented cast and their equally impressive ensemble, including outstanding music, brilliant set designs and fantastic costumes. If you love the film, the real Moulin Rouge in Paris or just high-end musicals in general, then this is truly the show for you.
All in all Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a lavish exciting production from start to finish!
Moulin Rouge! The Musical now playing at the Regent Theatre Melbourne
Photo Credits: Michelle Grace Hunder