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Review: MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL at the Orpheum Theatre

Looking for a fun night out in the Twin Cities?

Review: MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL at the Orpheum Theatre

Looking for a fun night out in the Twin Cities? Look no further than the National Tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical, playing at the Orpheum Theatre May 18 -June 5. This brand-new tour is a thrilling recreation of the Broadway show, with all the dazzle and excitement you'd expect from a Tony-winning Best Musical.

This jukebox musical is based on the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film of the same name, which starred Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman as Christian and Satine respectively. A tragic love story set in 1899 France, this high-energy production keeps the audience enthralled even before the show itself begins, as ensemble members sexily saunter onstage to oversee the room as the patrons enter. The gorgeous set design by Tony and Emmy-winning scenic designer Derek McLane catches your eye as soon as you walk into the theatre. A large heart in blazing red and gold takes center stage, and the show's title glows bright until Christian enters, gazing with wonderment at his surroundings, and magically lifts the title up and out of view so that the show can begin in earnest.

If you like pop music, this show will delight you from beginning to end. This Broadway megamix of hits (over 70 are credited in the show) mashes up songs from the 60's to present day, often bringing the audience to laugh with delight as a song was cleverly mixed into a scene. I'll admit, jukebox musicals are not usually my thing, but I was impressed by how Music Supervisor Justin Levine was able to weave each song flawlessly together. The second act stunner "Crazy Rolling" takes two amazing songs ("Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley and "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele) and uses them to show how painful and intense (and ultimately, ill-fated) the love between Christian and Satine truly is.

The cast is top-notch, each performer giving 100% to the show. Conor Ryan as Christian is a star-on-the-rise - he has a beautiful, strong voice, and gave a mesmerizing performance as the tortured young composer. We should expect great things from him in the future. Courtney Reed as Satine is no stranger to the Broadway stage, and her performance as the street-urchin turned cabaret star is moving and layered. André Ward as Toulouse-Lautrec and David Harris as The Duke of Monroth are captivating performers every time they are on stage, and Austin Durant as Harold Zidler is delightful (his Act Two performance of "Chandelier" is a highlight of the show).

Not all shows hit on all cylinders, but Moulin Rouge! does. The sets, costumes, lighting and choreography all work together to create an opulent and immersive experience. I have been a fan of Sonya Tayeh's choreography for a very long time - her routines on So You Think You Can Dance have always left an impression - but getting to see what she can do with a Broadway show (her first) is very exciting. She uses a variety of dance styles (can-can, jazz, contemporary and musical theater, to name just a few) to great effect. Every routine is adrenaline-filled and athletic, full of emotion and purpose.

The second Act opener, "Backstage Romance" is fun, energizing, and powerful. The costumes are simply gorgeous - not entirely period accurate but more a play on what could have been. They are designed with much thought and care by Tony-winner Catherine Zuber. I especially liked the scene with the upper class couples, all dressed in late 19th century styles with a modern twist - I don't believe I've ever seen record of men and women in that time period wearing pastel purples, blues, and pinks (with the women in lavender and pink wigs)! And is it silly to say I want a pair of the gorgeously-intricate hosiery?

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a celebration of Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Love. Between the megawatt musical numbers, stunning dance performances and breathtaking sets and costumes, there is something for everyone in this show. The audience at my performance could not contain their enthusiasm, hooting and hollering for the performers as if we were at a rock concert. We all joined in during the finale bows, singing along with the cast before filtering out of the theater, having shared an experience that brought smiles to everyone's faces. This was an all-around good time, and if you can score a ticket, expect to have a great night at the theatre.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

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