I got to see the Pre Broadway engagement of Moulin Rouge in Boston last weekend at the beautifully renovated Emerson Colonial Theater and here are my thoughts:
Official Blurb: Welcome bohemians and aristocrats, boulevardiers and mademoiselles to the MOULIN ROUGE!, the highly anticipated, world-premiere musical based on Baz Luhrmann’s Academy Award®-winning film.Experience the sweeping grandeur of Paris’ most spectacular dance hall. Directed by Tony® nominee Alex Timbers, with a book by Tony® winnerJohn Logan, music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Justin Levine, and choreography by Emmy® nominee Sonya Tayeh, the stage musical features many of the iconic songs from the movie and new hits released since its premiere. Set in Montmartre Quarter of Paris, France at the turn of the century, a world of indulgent beauty and unparalleled extravagance, of bohemians and aristocrats, of boulevardiers and mademoiselles, Moulin Rouge! The Musical tells the fictional story of an ambitious, lovesick writer, Christian (Aaron Tveit), and a dazzling, entrancing chanteuse, Satine (Karen Olivo). Their lives collide at the Moulin Rouge with its many characters including the host of the Moulin Rouge, Harold Zidler (Danny Burstein), the brilliant and starving artist Toulouse-Lautrec (Sahr Ngaujah), the greatest tango dancer – and gigolo – in all of Paris, Santiago (Ricky Rojas), the tempting Nini (Robyn Hurder), and The Duke of Monroth (Tam Mutu), the wealthy and entitled patron of the club who thinks he can buy anything he wants, including love.
My Take: I am obsessed. It was fun, loud, romantic, kitschy and fabulous all at the same time. There is no original music per say, but they brilliantly took the concept of the movie of mixing in mashups of modern songs and went to town with it. They basically take the nostalgia of the film and make it modern Nostalgia for 2018. At first I was hesitant about that – I know elephant love medley by heart and sang he he’ll out of it my college years and beyond so when it was modified I was a bit taken aback but really in this show you just have to let go and enjoy. The result is fabulous. The amount of songs that they manage to squeeze in are incredible and you get songs from the likes of Britney, Florence and the machine and Lady Gaga. Some of my other favorite pop culture shouts outs were: Shut up and Dance, I Don’t want to Wait (really can you get more nostalgia than Dawson’s Creek), Royals, Raise Your Glass and a great special appearance of Single Ladies. You leave the theater believing, like them, in the power of truth beauty freedom and love, and especially the beauty that is Aaron Tveit and his voice – which was the number one highlight of this show for me. It is a party. You laugh, you cry at the end, and you feel like you have been transported for 2 and a half hours to a better place through the power of theater.
Both opening acts are absolute showstoppers. Act 1 incorporates Lady Marmalade within the actual story and was a wonder of spectacle with some amazing singing and dancing. The Act 2 number probably was my favorite ensemble number of the show. A rehearsal scene for the show within the show, its a choreographed beauty with great songs such as: Bad Romance, Tainted Love, Seven Nation Army, Toxic and Sweet Dreams.
The cast is spectacular. I said it above and ill say it again Aaron Tveit is marvelous in the role. His voice is beautiful, (hes not bad looking himself) and he has a perfect blend of star quality but guy next door appeal that works wonders for the role. His Come What May is spectacular as is the Tango Roxanne which builds upon what was great in the movie and makes it better. Danny Burstein as Zidler fills up the room and gives quite a bit of depth to what could have been more of a cartoon character. Karen Olivo has a ridiculous voice and lights up the stage. Her take on Firework was spectacular. But there was something about her in this character that didn’t really gel it for me. There is something lacking in terms of the chemistry between Aaron Tveit and her and I was not the only person who thought it. (It was the talk around my seats, the only negative thing people were saying). Individually they are brilliant but together, the sparks are not quite there, it might be that she looks a bit old for him (i was REALLY close), but I’m not sure its that – its just something is off.
One of the biggest characters is the set. I posted a lot of images below of how it looks when you walk in and it is very interactive. The way they change it is amazing and it truly brings the show to life in the amount of colors and light.
However, not all is perfect and I would be amiss not pointing out some of the Things I would personally change given that this is a Pre-Broadway engagement. Apart from the chemistry of Santine and Christian that I Mentioned before, I think there is some tightening that can be done,as its probably 15 minutes longer than it should be. Also, The costumes could do better. They are good, they just could be a bit better and more spectacular! bring on more sparkles! It is the moulin rouge after all! (also broken stockings are just not acceptable).
Side note: the remodeled Emerson Colonial Theater is amazing! Look at those ceilings! The best part of it all was the service. With an app you get drinks straight to your seat! No need to cue at intermission which is heaven!