On Wednesday 20th July I attended the matinee performance of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. It plays at the Piccadilly Theatre in the West End. Moulin Rouge takes the audience on a romantically exhilarating journey; this production is both entertaining and immersive while being creatively and skilfully developed.
The Story of Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Moulin Rouge! The Musical tells the beloved story of Bohemian, Christian, and his infatuation towards the star of the famous burlesque nightclub, Satine. When the star-crossed lovers affiliate with one another they hit sudden conflict, when the immensely possessive Duke of Monroth steps in, that will jeopardise their future together at the Moulin Rouge. Through tragedy and heartache, the story represents four key values: Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love.
Cast and Creatives
The Tony award winning jukebox musical was originally performed on Broadway in 2018 and is based on the iconic 2001 musical film by Baz Luhrmann, that stars fan favourites: Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.
With additional lyrics by Justin Levine, the romance drama has recently transferred to the West End just last year and is currently playing at the Piccadilly Theatre in London, holding up to 1,184 people across three floors at each performance.
The critically acclaimed show stars Liisi LaFontaine as Satine and Jamie Bogyo as Christian. When visiting, I was lucky enough to experience the incredible talent of Alternate Tanisha Spring (Satine) and Walking Cover Adam Gillian (Christian), and their stellar portrayal of the well-loved characters. With the combination of both their astounding performances and powerful voices, the actors represent the hard-earned recognition that understudies/alternates/covers, and swings alike truly deserve.
The connection formed between the actors and audience is undeniably strong. Not only throughout the performance but also during the pre-show interactions, the atmosphere formed by the ensemble cast members felt so inclusive and really set the tone for the rest of the show. They have cleverly created such an environment in which you feel immersed, as if you were sat in the real Moulin Rouge.
Set and Costume Design
As well as the phenomenal cast, audiences are greeted with the wonderfully dazzling set designed by Derek McLane. The theatre is filled with illuminations that highlight amazingly detailed scenery that have you gazing in awe. This attention to detail gives further depth into the production’s representation, which contributes massively to its continued success.
Another fantastic element are all the costumes. Designed by Catherine Zuber, each costume has successfully highlighted its individual role, they have been clearly emphasised to correlate with the set, in terms of both colour and style which were all so fascinating to see. I especially liked the ensemble members costumes, although very different, they align so exquisitely next to one another combining lace, silk, velvet, and glitter. However, since the entire theatre is already decked out in red, the bold use of this colour and bright lights, despite skilfully representing the show, could prove too overwhelming for some people to focus on.
If you’re a fan of the film like me, you’ll recognise iconic songs such as The Can Can, Come What May, and Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. Whilst the musical features many of these original songs, you will witness new music from Music Supervisor, Orchestrator, and Arranger, Justin Levin, that combines over 70 songs from stars like Beyoncé, Adele and more.
This creates a unique musical theatre soundtrack that expands the shows storytelling well but becomes categorised a jukebox musical which some people may find off putting. From my experience however, I found this addition beneficial to the show, adding a sense of comedy as well as clarity into the plot that enables the audience to feel further involved with songs they know and love.
Following in the footsteps of the 2001 film’s choreographer, John O’Connell, the choreographer for Moulin Rouge! The Musical is the wonderfully talented Sonya Tayeh. From the ‘underground dance scene in Detroit’ to her first Broadway musical, she describes her transition as an ‘unforgettable experience’. After the Broadway opening Tayeh expressed her thoughts on what she needed to represent in the show ‘I knew this show really needed all that excess and that highly physical energy like the movie, it would be a disservice if it didn’t have that heat constantly lifting on the stage’.
Having never seen the show before, I was able to experience Tayeh’s talented work for the first time, and I was astonished, the choreography certainly did not disappoint! It was exactly what you would imagine the Moulin Rouge! to present and more, it’s provocative whilst remaining respectfully tasteful. There’s no other show like it. The Can Can was especially spectacular, the up-beat presence during the chorus line felt so high energised and dynamic, what a way to open (and close) the show, it certainly made my experience even more incredible.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical allows for a new way of experiencing theatre, you really don’t want to miss out on seeing the show, especially if you’re familiar with and love the film. You will leave finding yourself singing the songs, feeling ecstatic and desperate to return… I know I did.
Catch the show now at the Piccadilly Theatre while you ‘Can Can Can’!