Review: MOULIN ROUGE! at the Eccles Theater is a Euphoric Heart-Filled Extravaganza

MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL plays the Eccles Theater for a limited engagement through Sunday, December 11, 2022.

By: Dec. 03, 2022
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Review: MOULIN ROUGE! at the Eccles Theater is a Euphoric Heart-Filled Extravaganza

The national tour of Moulin Rouge! THE MUSICAL at the Eccles Theater is not just "spectacular spectacular"--it is "spectacular" a million times over with dazzling scenic and lighting design that has to be seen to be believed, and even then it feels unbelievable. The entire production is a luscious extravaganza of visuals and music, thanks to the unparalleled artistic vision of Tony-winning director Alex Timbers and his collaborators. But it's not just shiny veneer with no substance. Lying just under the surface is a pulsating heart of humanity, filled with love and pain and aspiration, driving the experience to euphoric heights.

MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL (book by John Logan), based on Baz Luhrmann's 2001 Oscar-winning film, won 10 Tony Awards last year, including Best Musical. Aspiring songwriter Christian arrives in Paris with youthful optimism and falls in love with disillusioned courtesan Satine at a hub of bohemian nightlife called the Moulin Rouge. Although she finds herself drawn to him, she is weighed down with the worries of a failing Moulin Rouge and the advances of a suitor who can save it--the powerful Duke of Monroth.

The exhilarating score utilizes a dizzying selection of music from 70 different pop songs in multiple mashups, painstakingly coordinated in careful service of the characters and plot by Tony winner Justin Levine (music supervisor, co-orchestrator, arrangements, and additional lyrics). Favorites from the film like "Come What May," "El Tango de Roxanne," and "Your Song" are joined by brilliant new additions such as "Crazy Rolling," "Shut Up and Raise Your Glass," and "Backstage Romance."

It is a tall order to follow in the footsteps of the powerhouse original cast, including Aaron Tveit and Karen Olivo, but this company fills their roles admirably.

Conor Ryan is a bright-eyed Christian descending into despair, and Courtney Reed (who originated the part of Jasmine in Broadway's ALADDIN) is a steely Satine softening to his advances. Their voices blend beautifully together but also singularly soar in their solos.

David Harris as the Duke, Gabe Martinez as Santiago, and Libby Lloyd as Nini all shine, and Austin Durrant as Harold Zidler and André Ward as Toulouse-Lautrec particularly impress.

While slight necessary tweaks have been made to accommodate the requirements of touring, the magnificent physical production is astonishingly close to the Broadway original.

The layered, intricate costumes by Tony winner Catherine Zuber reflect the turn-of-the-20th-century setting as well as current styles and silhouettes.

The sets by Tony winner Derek McLane are also gratifyingly rooted in historical realism, suggesting a crumbling brick backstage along with the soot-covered rooftops and winding streets of Paris. Utilizing several flats and drops, the design work is miraculous, with the various thoughtfully placed elements popping out to create pictures that appear to be three-dimensional living paintings. Overlayed upon this are stunning set pieces that reflect the modern sensibilities of the contemporary music and Tony winner Sonia Tayeh's crisp choreography, including a breathtaking latticework of heart patterns that opens the show with sheer magic.

The sets were specifically crafted to mesmerizingly morph under different colors of lighting, forming eye-popping visual shifts, from deep red to bright purple and beyond. The delectably vibrant lighting design by Tony winner Justin Townsend pulls out all the stops with footlights, spotlights, and strobes all making appearances to create unforgettable moments of utter ecstasy.

Whether or not you should move heaven and earth to see this show is not a question. You absolutely don't want to regret missing Moulin Rouge!

MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL plays the Eccles Theater for a limited engagement through Sunday, December 11, 2022. For tickets, call ArtTix at 801-355-ARTS (2787) or visit www.artsaltlake.org.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy




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