Fourth of a series of Broadway reports

NEW YORK — “Moulin Rouge,” undeniably an expansive and explosive musical unfolding at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on Broadway, is a monstrous dash of flash. It’s anything you might want it to be: a nightclub, a disco, a non-stop jukebox of hot pop songs, a floor show of can-can girls. Even a state of mind, as noted by Harold Zidler, the owner of the Moulin Rouge club, played by Eric Anderson.

The show – set in Gay Paree’s notable nightclub of the title — begins even before the spectacle opens, with costumed characters descending from sets onto the stage, crawling on the rims of both stage left and right, resembling Cirque du Soleil artists. The regalia — some nostalgic, some brief, some clearly exotic — build anticipation of what’s to come.

Amour is in the air, and when the dazzling melodies start thumping away, showtime means feathers, glitter, gyrations and hearty emotions.

“Lady Marmalade,” certainly the key prevailing anthem in the score, is all action and audience reaction. The cast and the audience members (some quietly, some not) belt out Labelle’s explicit and exquisite lyrics of  Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, and the dance party is officially on.

Director Alex Timbers and choreographer Sonya Tayeh retain the life-is-beautiful spirit of film director Baz Luhrmann and co-writer Craig Pearce, who collaborated on the film, which has been updated and upgraded with lots of oomph and power, with something to appeal to all, straight, gay, or LGBTQ.

Starring Joanna “Jojo” Levesque as Satine, a courtesan fighting tuberculosis, Derek Klena as the lovestruck composer Christian, Eric Anderson as Harold Zidler, Andre Ward as Toulouse-Lautrec, and David Harris as the Duke of Monroth, aka he/him, “Moulin Rouge” treats music as a drug in a sense that it’s easy to get high – with emotion and participation. Songs often are said to be the soundtrack of our lives, and surely, fleeting nostalgic moments of your memories whirl and twirl like a merry-go-round on steroids.

Unfortunately, the Playbill does not collate titles of the music employed during this journey, so you can’t reflect and count ’em. And the tunes are clustered into fast-and-furious medleys that you may not recall the fave you’re grooving to because, um, here comes another fastball.

But since songs are so dominant and definitive in the show, you’re likely to get dizzy with joy when you recognize Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” in a quick mashup with Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” then sooner or later, there’s an extended rendering of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,”  roaring out from the lungs of Christian and Santine. One of the shows impactful moment, this.

In case you forget when the charades and parades fade, Katy Perry’s “Fireworks,” Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and “You Can’t Get Always Get What You Want” are prominently staged with glorious dances.

There are temptations, visual and aural, all tied to the tempo and choreography, and since this is kind of a Bohemian rhapsody, expect Elton John, Madonna and sundry others to pop in musically.

Be warned: if strobe lights and loud music offend you, you might best order balcony seats to be\some distance away from the pyrotechnics…

And that’s Show Biz. …

‘Moulin Rouge

“Moulin Rouge” is a musical based on the film written by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, directed by Luhrmaan, with book by John LoganPlaying at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre

Leave a Reply