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Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Ooh la laaa! That about sums up Moulin Rouge! The Musical. But I’ll continue.  It’s sexy, it’s dangerous, it’s fantasy, moving at such lightning speed, and all you can do is strap yourself in and hang on for the ride.

Enter the Capitol Theatre, and you’re walking straight into 19th Century Paris, into that Moulin Rouge nightclub made famous in Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 Oscar winning film.

It’s a sheer assault on the senses. Red, so red, oozing decadence. Look ahead to the three-dimensional set, lush-red pulsating hearts adorned by glittering chandeliers, to the right is the entrance to Satine’s infamous majestic Elephant boudoir – there’s an elephant emerging majestically from the wall – to the left, the famous Moulin Rouge windmill. And prowling, flaunting, among it all are Moulin Rouge! characters, inviting you, daring you, to come into their world.

As nightclub owner Harold Zidler (Simon Burke) reminds us:

“No matter your sin, you’re welcome here. No matter your desire, you’re welcome here. For this is more than a nightclub, the Moulin rouge is a state of mind.”

Simon Burke stars as flamboyant nightclub owner Harold Zidler.

Then bang! It starts. Straight into Lady Marmalade. (You know the one: “Gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, da-da  Gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, here… voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?”) And if that doesn’t set the tone, the cancan, which follows, will.

To flesh out the rather flimsy storyline of Moulin Rouge! on stage, the film’s original score has been expanded. There are now 70 songs, credited to 160 songwriters spaning more than 160 years.

All your favourites from the original soundtrack, including David Bowie’s Nature Boy; Fatboy Slim’s Because We Can, and Come What May (famously sung by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor) are there. But now there are countless new numbers, mashups ranging from Beyoncé (Single Ladies) to Katy Perry, (Firework); from Sia (Chandelier) to Adele (Rolling in the Deep); from  Lady Ga Ga (Bad Romance) to Pink (Raise Your Glass) and Lorde’s (Royals). These pop songs in a period setting bringing exquisite relevance.

It took ten years to bring Moulin Rouge! to the stage after the idea was floated in 2009 over lunch by producers Carmen Pavlovic and Gerry Ryan of Global Creatures with film creator Baz Luhrmann and his designer wife Catherine Martin. It premiered in Boston in 2018 and Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 2019.

The story centres on your basic love triangle. Aspiring composer and all-round nice guy Christian  (Des Flanagan) falls hopelessly in love with Moulin Rouge’s cabaret star Satine (Alinta Chidzey), but  Harold has other plans for his leading lady, chasing the deep pockets of the Duke (Andrew Cook) to save him from financial ruin.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical starring from left Tim Omaji, Alinta Chidzey, Des Flanagan, Simon Burke, Ryan Gonzalez and Andy Cook.

While it’s evident Nicole Kidman as Satine in the movie, is more of an actress than a singer, Alinta Chidzey, can belt out a tune, her electric charisma lighting up the stage. Even more extraordinary is the fact that after a year of sending audition tapes in 2020, she was 37 weeks pregnant when she finally had her first in-person audition, landing the role against 2,000 applications and 479 auditions.

Burke is compelling, flamboyancy at its best, Flanagan as the good-boy Christian could be stronger vocally, while our Northern Beaches boy Andrew Cook could literally stand there oozing his sexy bad-boy vibes without opening his mouth and still command the stage. (but yes, he can sing as well). The ensemble is exceptionally powerful, you don’t know where to cast your eyes as every character is animated to the max. You could see the show a dozen times and still see something new.

The choreography is high energy, could have done with more in fact, and the costumes exquisitely detailed and cleverly adding a modern interpretation to the period design.

While not quite as edgy as the film, Moulin Rouge! The Musical is still a wicked escape into a vibrant, fiery world beyond our imagination. Dive in. Go see it.

Read how Moulin Rouge! The Musical star Andrew Cook began his theatre career on the Northern Beaches here.

MOULIN ROUGE AGE

  • Capitol Theatre 13 Campbell Street, Haymarket
  • until October 23
  • Tickets range from $89 to $299

 

 

 

 

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