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"Moulin Rouge!," show #836

Moulin Rouge! is a Broadway show that, once you’ve seen the 2001 film, just makes sense to put on stage. After sweeping the 2021 Tony Awards technical categories, male-acting categories, and winning for orchestrations, choreography, direction, and Best Musical, I was thrilled to see what the hype is all about. Alex Timbers has directed a superb stage adaptation of Moulin Rouge! with Sonya Tayeh’s choreography being wildly entertaining, making this Best Musical a worthy winner of the treasured accolade.

(Natalie Mendoza (Satine) and Aaron Tveit (Christian); Photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

Aaron Tveit delivers a wonderfully appealing and alluring performance as Christian, the poor singer/songwriter who falls for the local dancer, Satine. Tveit does a fine job balancing the narrating duties with being a true leading man in song and scene. Understudy/swing Tasia Jungbauer went on for Satine, traditionally played by Natalie Mendoza, and gave a fantastically grounded performance from start to finish. Jungbauer’s vocals and dancing prowess are phenomenally showcased in the musical, and her acting chops opposite Tveit give a genuine connection throughout their journey. Eric Anderson is a fun Harold Zidler, leading the dance hall with whimsical gravitas and finding just enough funny moments to stamp his performance as genuine and comedic.

(Tam Mutu (Duke of Monroth) and Cast of Moulin Rouge!; Photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

Featured highlights come from Tam Mutu’s domineering The Duke of Monroth, Raul Contreras and Ricky Rojas as the tag-team artistic duo Pierre and Santiago, respectively, and Jessica Lee Goldyn as the triple-threat powerhouse in Nini. While Moulin Rouge! as a whole finds success in not taking itself too seriously, what with all the pop hits and dashes of hilarity when the audience recognizes the jukebox style, there is still a degree of caring that John Logan’s book demands from the audience late in the musical, putting much work on the shoulders of those portraying Christian, Satine, The Duke, and Harold to elicit. The cast I saw rose to the occasion and for that I am grateful.

(Cast of Moulin Rouge!; Photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

Technically, of course it swept the Tonys because it’s a feat in design, with special shout out to the color display. Red is the dominating color, accented well among Derek McLane’s grand set, Catherine Zuber’s beautiful array of costumes, and Justin Townsend’s moody lighting, both flashy and intimate when called for. However, it is Peter Hylenski’s superb sound design that I found the true feat. Moulin Rouge! has many moments of quiet dialogue, narration, and song in solo, but I heard every word, part, and note. My seat was in the last row of the theater, and I felt like I heard what I would have had I been seated in the very front. Moulin Rouge! has been given the Broadway treatment because it can, can, can and should, should, should; I encourage you to dress up in your prettiest garb and join the fun!

(Cast of Moulin Rouge!; Photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

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