MOULIN ROUGE! – We have now closed out our bloc of MOULIN ROUGE! tickets but have put up a waitlist. Between now and October 5th (the day of the performance we’re attending) plans will inevitably change and a few people who now own tickets will find they are unable to go. If you find yourself available and wanting to see this show, put yourself on the waitlist and you will be contacted if any MWC’ers ticket(s) become available. These will be allocated on a FCFS (First-Come-First-Served) basis in order of sign up. You will be put in touch with the ticket owner to work out details related to payment, ticket delivery …etc.
That crazy Baz Luhrmann! You sort of love him or hate him. But lots of us are in the former camp, grooving on his crazy-quilt, genre-bending pastiche approach to his productions. Case in point: his movie version of MOULIN ROUGE! which was redolent of opera (Boheme, Traviata), had a contemporary pop soundtrack (listen for Madonna, Gaga, Piaf, the Beatles and Rodgers and Hammerstein!), and even mixed in elements of 50’s musicals with pretty stereotypical characters bursting into song at the slightest provocation.
So, having created a mix of styles and genres in a film – what was next? Why, to do it as live theater, of course! “Immersive theater” is the term thrown about these days for productions which draw you into the action by virtue of either the setting and/or interaction with the actors. In this case, the music is a large part of the immersion. As your ear becomes piqued by whatever pop classic is about to come your way, your senses are also heightened by trying to listen to it and reinterpret it for the unexpected context of the play.
This production, which premiered in a short run in Boston last summer, has done this with an over-the-top set and the strengthening of its characters. Technically, it is probably a jukebox musical – except that an awful lot of the songs used (70+) were never on a jukebox! – and there is original music in addition. Aaron Tveit (known for Rent, Next to Normal and Wicked) and Karen Olivo (Tony Award winner for West Side Story) lead the ensemble as, respectively, Christian (Ewan McGregor in the movie) and Satine (Nicole Kidman). Most exciting, Danny Burstein is playing the Harold Zidler role created by Jim Broadbent in the film. Is that man ever not working (he’s currently playing Alfred Doolittle in My Fair Lady) ???
Moulin Rouge! is set in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris, France, during the Belle Epoque at the turn of the 20th century. It is a fictional story about Christian, a young composer, who ends up falling in love with the consumptive cabaret actress Satine, who is the star of the Moulin Rouge. But this is Montmartre suffused with a steamy wash of reds, sparkliness and beauty. Uh, not exactly like the real Montmartre but, hey, that’s the magic of theater!
The production team clearly committed to and delivered on a goal of outrageousness and excess – which is the underlying theme of the entire production in all of its elements. This is theatrical overload which will be hard to take in all at once because there is so much to look at and listen to. If you find that appealing, this will be a great production for you to see. But maybe you want to give it a think and perhaps quaff a glass of absinthe as you do?