The stage version of Moulin Rouge!, Baz Luhrmann’s musical romance set in the famous Parisian cabaret, was always bound to create a spectacle when it landed on Broadway. Updated for 2019, the musical version, which has a book by John Logan, features a number of contemporary hits from the likes of Adele, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry.
Directed by Alex Timbers, the musical features a lavish, all-encompassing set at the Al Hirschfield Theatre, on which aspiring writer Christian (Aaron Tveit) and dancer Satine (Karen Olvio) fall in love. But pressure mounts on Satine as her boss, Moulin Rouge owner Harold Zidler (Danny Burstein) is relying on the dancer to appease the Duke of Monroth, whose money will keep the establishment running.
The musical, which first premiered in Boston before opening on Broadway, had its official opening in New York last night. Here’s what the critics had to say.
"In a crowded Broadway market place, Moulin Rouge has a show that has it all: it's not just 70 songs that are rolled into one show, but also a canvas of spectacle and emotion that isn't just a floorshow but left me floored with its sublime artistry." Mark Shenton, New York Theatre Guide, ★★★★★
"Choreographer Sonya Tayeh gives the bustling ensemble, awash in a rainbow of colours from costume designer Catherine Zuber, exhilarating, sexy dances — from cancan and tango to modern. Musical supervisor, orchestrator and arranger Justin Levine has pieced together a score containing 70 songs, both full numbers and excerpts of songs made famous by Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and more." Diane Snyder, The Telegraph, ★★★★☆
"What audiences apparently want is dazzle and excitement and pyrotechnics and trapezes and sword-swallowing and equal-opportunity lechery and Catherine Zuber’s sensuous costumes and Derek Mclane’s glitzy set and Sonya Tayeh’s playful, libidinous, clever choreography and a chorus belting out Bad Romance and Chandelier and Crazy (did they really have to keep Roxanne?) and a giant blue elephant that plays merry hell with a bunch of the sightlines." Alexis Soloski, The Guardian, ★★★☆☆
"The musical’s most difficult task may have been capturing the film’s well-balanced feeling of excess and doom. Moulin Rouge! (2001) is a paradox, a tragic fairy tale. Moulin Rouge! The Musical (2019) comes close to matching it, but gets lost in the excess, like the absinthe Christian consumes." Brittany Spanos, The Rolling Stone
"As in the film, the plot is yet another tragic story of mismatched lovers, inspired by everything from “Carmen” to “La Dame aux Camélias.” But I’m not sick of it, and nor should you be. Tales about true love transcending divergent social origins and personal destinies never go out of fashion." Marilyn Stasio, Variety