‘It’s Like a Fairground’: Inside the Musical Ride of the Moulin Rouge in the West End


Wwhen you enter the auditorium at Piccadilly Theater, no standard stage setup welcomes you. Instead there are concentric neon hearts, sumptuous plumes of velvet, a windmill, and brightly lit letters that spell out the words:Moulin Rouge! Audiences were transported to the legendary Parisian vaudeville venue, to watch a story of love, sex and consumption unfold while “Lady Marmalade” boomed. There’s no need for rose-tinted glasses here – everything is already so red it hurts your eyes. That is of course, except for the colorful blue elephant clad in the face of a royal box.

As the movies go on, you’ll struggle to find someone more suitable for the stage than the Australian director Baz Luhrmann2001 flashy jukebox musical, starring Nicole Kidman as a breathless maid named Satine, who falls in love with penniless young poet Christian (Ewan McGregor). That has happened for as long as it has been a real shock. Booming Broadway in 2019, Moulin Rouge! Opera won 10 Tony Awards (including Aaron Tveit in the Untested Lead Actor category, thanks to the pandemic) and ended up jumping over to London West End with a brand new cast and production that’s even bigger than the movie itself. Maybe that’s the tradition of pantomime in the UK, the cast and crew told me, but British audiences danced in their seats and cheered back in previews before the show was forced to. Closed for a week at Christmas.

From the staging to the songs, it’s certainly a musical experience – stealing the title of Christian’s play in a play – breathtaking, breathtaking. “This is not a show that starts with the curtain drawn – as soon as you walk into the theater,” said Clive Carter, who plays host and pimp Harold Zidler and has a wide range of comments about Jim. generous about him, even without personality. “It’s like a fair.” As the final act in Luhrmann’s lavish Red Curtain Trilogy, the film drew inspiration from the world of musical theater. Now, cinema is influencing the stage. Actor Jason Pennycooke, an Olivier nominee, who plays Toulouse, said: “My reaction to the movie the first time I saw it was ‘Wow. “I just thought it was explosive, and I watched it right away…” He reckons they managed to capture the squeals and bangs for the stage. “The lighting makes it pretty cinematic when you’re watching the reality show. It almost feels like you’re watching a movie.”

But for all the fans of Luhrmann’s film, there are plenty of haters Moulin Rouge. When people claim they’re “not a fan of musicals,” theater kids will often argue that there are more complex, nuanced shows out there – yours. Hamiltons, yours Coming from far awayS. But there are very few moments of silence to be found in Moulin Rouge (rarely in Luhrmann films) – all of them ruffled films, slow-motion cans and Elton John covers. When musicals came out, it was just like music.

When the film was released, critics were equally divided. Some reviewers praised the show’s “bold” outlook, with one writing that it was guided in the style of “Hunter Thompson/Liberace acid trip” (references to hallucinations often appear in the series). Moulin Rouge evaluate). But for others, the whole thing is completely unconvincing. “Moulin Rouge is an assault on the senses,” wrote Jean Lowerison in Municipality of San Diego. “Everything here is top notch. You may feel good, but you will almost certainly feel tired.” In Philadelphia WeeklySean Burns said that Luhrmann “crazily hoarded more than a century’s worth of pop culture shards and then the bullet would vomit all over the screen in revenge”. Noisy.

Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor as doomed lovers Satine and Christian in Luhrmann’s film

(Moviestore / Shutterstock)

So how do you adapt a musical that provokes such a strong reaction of love or disgust? You increase it to the nth degree. Moulin Rouge! Opera opens with a cover of “Lady Marmalade” by Christina Aguilera, Pink, Mya and Lil’ Kim before moving on to “So Fresh / So Clean”, “Rhythm of the Night” and “Because We Can” by Fatboy Slim in seven minutes of excitement, fatigue. It’s enough to give you a musical craze, but the show is full of these pop mash-ups, inspired by Kidman and McGregor’s “Elephant Love Medley” from the movie, where “Heroes,” “Your Song” and “I Will Always Love You” were among the songs that were featured together.

In 2001, Luhrmann introduced the world to the song “Come What May” (one of the original few on the soundtrack) and turned The Police’s “Roxanne” into a frequently heard Argentine tango anthem. Seriously come to dance. Set in the early 20th century, Moulin Rouge was one of the first films to advance pop culture text in a classic. Decades later, there’s a lot of what music supervisor Justin Levine calls “contemporary classics” to take from the theatrical version – your Katy Perrys, your Beyoncés, your Adeles. Just like the 2001 movie that brought together pop diva quartet Xtina and her co-workers (whom of us weren’t deeply influenced by that performing live at the MTV Movie Awards?), now pop stars of the 2010s are being honored on the show. Liisi LaFontaine, Satine of the West End, says that their own energy is also being regenerated. “Whenever I have to talk to people, I say it like I’m at an Ariana Grande concert – just shrill screams at certain points,” LaFontaine said. “And obviously most of them were wearing masks but everyone’s faces were like…” she widened her eyes, delighted with fear.

Clive Carter as Harold Zidler, the character played by Jim Broadbent in the movie

(Matt Crockett)

LaFontaine and Jamie Bogyo, who will make their professional debut as Christian, believe that Moulin Rouge! Opera will triumph over even the biggest skeptics. Bogyo said: “There are certain things about the show that are, like, or cannot be denied. “The movie is undeniably gorgeous, the orchestra and dance numbers are amazing. Like, there really isn’t any way to argue. You might think I’m a bad actor on the show… I won’t lose sleep over it. But there’s enough. It was great. ”

They say what needs to be done is for the suspension of skepticism required in larger musicals than it even exists. “It’s been a challenging journey, but we always say it’s like a ride,” says LaFontaine. “Once you accept, you will be up there, and if you surrender, that will happen. If you’re against it, or if you take a moment to say, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on?’ it’s very overwhelming. ”

Still, with audiences returning to theaters after an intense Christmas break and an even more intense year for the industry, the show feels like a great and most needed escape. “Unless you’re really dead inside, you’re probably going to have a good time,” Boygo says. There was definitely a twinkle in his eye.

‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical ‘runs at the Piccadilly Theater

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/features/moulin-rouge-musical-west-end-b1990371.html ‘It’s Like a Fairground’: Inside the Musical Ride of the Moulin Rouge in the West End

Tom Vazquez

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