Moulin Rouge! The Musical is back at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne’s East End Theatre District.
After a COVID-interrupted start, Moulin Rouge! The Musical finally made its Australian premiere in Melbourne in November 2021. The COVID-shortened Melbourne season quickly sold out before the production commenced a national tour. It seems only fitting that Moulin Rouge! The Musical ends the Australian tour back at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre. The opening night of this return season felt like a home-coming, and an opportunity to truly celebrate.
Nearly two years after it first opened, Moulin Rouge! The Musical remains a musical triumph of glorious indulgence and excess. Most of the cast have remained with the company since the show opened, with just a few noticeable changes. Overall, it feels the same high energy celebration of love and bohemian ideals as the original Australian premiere, but now the cast are well and truly settled into their characters.
Alinta Chidzey shines bright like a diamond as Satine and her passionate and gut-wrenching performance of ‘Firework’ is quite the show-stopper, earning Chidzey a rousing ovation on opening night.
Des Flanagan has solidified his portrayal as Christian, and brings a delightful and enthusiastic boyish charm to the role, that beautifully contrasts the grounded maturity of his love interest, Satine.
Simon Burke is brilliant as Harold Zidler. Burke perfectly balances the cheeky campness with the gravity of the situation Zidler finds himself in. Burke has found all the complexities of this curious character and his experience shines through.
James Bryers has taken the role of the Duke and made it his own. Despite being the villain of the story, it’s hard not to feel sorry for this character for just a moment. Bryers has brought an appropriate level of humanity to the role, yet is still convincing as an unlikeable villain who is willing to yield his power not matter what the cost.
Bert La Bonte has joined the cast as artist Toulouse-Loutrec and brings his wealth of experience to deliver a mature and heartfelt performance.
Continuing in the “other backstage romance” are Samantha Dodemaide as Nini and Ryan Gonzalez as Santiago, who two years later continue to sizzle onstage with a powerful performance, brilliantly executing the choreography with precision and passion.
It’s impossible to find fault in Moulin Rouge! The Musical, setting the benchmark on how to adapt a well-loved film into a musical. The 70+ hit songs expertly arranged and cleverly interwoven through the show by Justin Levine to tell the story set this musical apart from any other “jukebox” style musical.
The success of Moulin Rouge! The Musical is the sum of all its extravagant parts – the excellent book by John Logan that beautifully captures the energy of the original film, the lavish set design by Derek McLane, the exquisite costume design by Catherine Zuber, the stunning lighting design by Justin Townsend and sound design by Peter Hylenski, the sensational choreography by Sonya Timbers, and of course the music direction by Justin Levine, all superbly brought together by the direction of Alex Timbers. At times Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a lavish sensory overload, and then at other times, completely stripped back to the bare minimum, each time aiding to enhance the story or draw out the emotions.
The opening night of Moulin Rouge! The Musical was as much a celebration of the resilience of Global Creatures and the tenacity of the theatre industry to overcome the challenges of the recent pandemic as it was an opening night of a return season. In a very poignant moment, producer Carmen Pavlovic took to the stage at the end of the curtain call to thank Gerry Ryan for his support and for taking care of the cast during the challenges of lockdowns and theatre closures. Admitting they took some massive risks that could of threatened the company, it was an interesting parallel to the story we had just witnessed. The risks paid off – Moulin Rouge! The Musical won 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, quickly sold out the original Melbourne season and is now playing around the world to great critical acclaim.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical is now playing at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne’s East End Theatre District. Don’t miss it.
For more information and tickets: https://moulinrougemusical.com/australia/tickets-melbourne/