Home Doll house ‘Moulin Rouge’ Is A Great Show, And Maybe That’s All It Wants To Be

‘Moulin Rouge’ Is A Great Show, And Maybe That’s All It Wants To Be


In some ways Baz Luhrmann’s exuberant and flashy 2001 film red Mill was ripe for a stage adaptation. But as a pre-9/11 postmodern product of an era of experimentation with music in movies, and as an ode to the genre chaos of Bollywood films, it takes some looking back to have a meaning as a Broadway musical.

That’s not to say the musical, which just opened at the Orpheum in San Francisco on its first national tour, is in any way understated or understated stripped of Luhrmann’s glitz and pomp. Much of this enjoyment and admiration is intact in the stage spectacle and sometimes even heightened by the immediacy of the live performance. Instead of spinning and following upskirt shots of can-can dancers, we have rows of choir members bouncing this way and that across the stage, the flash of neon, and an ever-changing dollhouse. of a set that keeps revealing new and secret rooms, glitter showers and confetti cannons. And, of course, there are also live cancan dancers.

As Christian, the American in Paris who meets a group of bohemians and helps them write a show before falling in love with his star, Conor Ryan brings a lot of infectious energy and awkwardness to the role. Much like Ewan McGregor in the film, Ryan exudes an air of youth and fearlessness about sounding silly, and it doesn’t hurt that he has a stellar voice.

The plot of the series remains mostly similar to the film, with showgirl Satine (played here by Courtney Reed) accidentally seducing Christian when she is supposed to use her courtesan skills to woo a wealthy duke who has the means to save the box. troubled night. Satine and Christian fall in love with each other as they work to produce the show – the plot of which is a thinly veiled version of what they experience, with a wealthy thief attempting to possess Satine as his own . And it’s led by their friend Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (played with great French enthusiasm by Andre Ward, who you might recognize Laid).

As master of ceremonies and owner of the Harold Zidler club, Austin Durant provides the necessary showmanship and verve, leading this great ensemble through much of the almost breathless medley of pop songs, appearing here as anachronistic stage numbers. from 1899.

The creative team behind Red Mill! Musical comedy reinvents Luhrmann’s pastiche of 2001 with a look at the pop hits of the past decade – with everything from Lorde’s “Royals” to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” making appearances in the score. A few key songs from the original, like Elton John’s “Your Song”, David Bowie’s “Nature Boy” and “Lady Marmalade” also feature prominently.

Conor Ryan in Christian and Courtney Reed in Satine in the North American Moulin Rouge tour! Musical comedy. Photo by Matthew Murphy for Murphymade

The music, and especially the ensemble numbers, are all incredibly strong – this is a show that’s meant to dazzle and it does. From the opening kick lines to the closing curtain call, this cast and production does not disappoint.

As for the story arc and romance between Christian and Satine, it seems to recede in ways it couldn’t quite in the film – and Reed’s Satine is oddly toned down, especially in contrast to the dervishes. turners surrounding him and the looseness of his dashing leading man.

As Duke stunt double Adam J. Levy played the part well in the performance I saw, and he provides the necessary musical villain. But Luhrmann’s idea of ​​blending music, comedy and tragedy into one sweeping tale feels less like an experiment and more like standard fare in the stage version. Musicals are meant to have all that emotionality that movies often lack, but knowing what happens in that storyline, Satine’s inevitable loss to consumerism, etc., the tragic part of the plot seems almost nailed on – and soon we come back to canning.

The show could end up being very adaptable in covers all the way – it doesn’t matter what pop songs you plug into the medleys, as long as they’re about love or romance. But it will still require a set as complex and crazy as the one here by Derek McLane, and a choreography as frenetic as that of Sonya Tayeh.

If only there was a way to cure this consumption and keep the show going.

Red Mill! The musical plays until November 6. Find tickets here.