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Review Roundup: MOULIN ROUGE! Opens in London; What Did the Critics Think?

Moulin Rouge! officially opened in London on 20 January at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Moulin Rouge! officially opened in London on 20 January at the Piccadilly Theatre. The cast of Moulin Rouge! is led by Liisi LaFontaine and Jamie Bogyo in the roles of Satine and Christian.

Enter a world of splendor and romance, of eye-popping excess, of glitz, grandeur and glory! A world where Bohemians and aristocrats rub elbows and revel in electrifying enchantment. Pop the champagne and prepare for the spectacular spectacular...Welcome to Moulin Rouge! The Musical.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Aliya Al-Hassan, BroadwayWorld: Liisi LaFontaine, last seen on the London stage as Deena in Dreamgirls, brings heart and confidence to the role of Satine. Her powerful vocals have great clarity, particularly in her passionate rendition of Katy Perry's "Firework". Despite stories of a feminist update, Satine remains a pawn for men to control, rather than LaFontaine being able to give her any agency or fire.

Kate Wyver, The Guardian: It's never going to be easy, staging Baz Luhrmann's iconic musical movie starring consumption-ridden Nicole Kidman and lovelorn Ewan McGregor. But with a half-tonne sculpture of an elephant leering over the audience, a hefty cast and money to burn, this production gives it a good go. There is a lot to love: with a wonderfully wild energy throughout, it's happily queerer than the film, and the well-known songs really are spectacular.

Franco Milazzo, Londonist: OK, the show's not perfect; while Broadway used highly experienced musical theatre actors, the central roles of Satine and Christian here are played by a comparative newcomer (Liisi LaFontaine) and an actual newcomer (scriptwriter Jamie Bogyo making his West End debut); while both have commendable voices, they lack a bit of the charisma and the chemistry to make us truly care about their tragic plight.

Suzy Evans, The standouts of the evening are in the supporting cast and the ensemble. As writer and unabashed bohemian Toulouse-Lautrec, Jason Pennycooke steals every scene he's in, and Elia Lo Tauro oozes charisma as Christian's rapscallion friend Santiago. Clive Carter channels Jim Broadbent from the film in a pitch-perfect portrayal of the club's emcee Harold Ziegler, and every ensemble dancer deserves their own shoutout for the hard work and energy they're delivering onstage.

Chris Omaweng, LondonTheatre1: It's escapism of the highest order, playing to the gallery as it does with little (if any) subtlety. The plot may be rather insubstantial but at the end of the day, it's fun, and just the tonic after all those difficult months in which the theatres were closed. Go to let your hair down and let proceedings wash over you. Don't go expecting depth, nuance or a profound storyline.

Tim Bano, The Stage: At the heart of the problem is its lack of one. Baz Luhrmann's film has all the same camp, grandiose, jukebox-plundering excess as the stage show, but somehow it convinces us to fall in love with its characters. This stage adaptation doesn't. There is a lack of chemistry between the two leads, US performer Liisi LaFontaine as consumptive starlet Satine and debutant Jamie Bogyo as Parisian arriviste Christian.

Greg Stewart, TheatreWeekly: Where &Juliet does a fantastic job of making well known hits feel like they had been written specifically for a musical, Moulin Rouge does not. At least seventy songs are squeezed in, from Beyoncé to Sia and Katy Perry to Queen, it feels like every chart topper from the last two decades and beyond has been found a spot. Don't expect to hear the full songs though, usually it's just a line or a chorus, often being sung simultaneously with a completely different number.

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut London: Beneath the songs we're stuck with a generic plod through the romance of the club's doomed, beautiful star performer Satine (Liisi LaFontaine) and penniless American dreamer Christian (Jamie Bogyo) who falls head over heels for her when he comes to pitch some songs her way. The vivacious LaFontaine and likeable stage debutant Bogyo - he looks a bit like a more cheerful Adam Driver - are very watchable, but there are plenty of points in the second half where the songs stop for a long time and we're left with a plot that's both wearily tropey and awkwardly po-faced.

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