Review: Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Regent Theatre
Until 24 September

It sizzles. It’s electrifying. It’s energy on steroids. Moulin Rouge! The Musical triumphs anew – a rolled gold winner that keeps on delivering.

The staging, costuming, lighting, music, sound and choreography are magnificent … awe inspiring.

The performers metaphorically lift the roof off one of the world’s great theatres – The Regent.

Photos by Michelle Grace Hunder

The chorus numbers build and build. Time and again, the audience is whipped into a frenzy – the acclamation instant, heartfelt and enduring.

Such is the impact of a truly spectacular production. The excitement is palpable.

More than 70 songs from 160 songwriters, representing over 160 years of music, are mashed into two hours and 15 minutes of prolific entertainment. It is a showcase of hit after glorious hit.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a 10-time Tony Award-winning jukebox musical based on Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film, with added songs.

The story concerns the problematic, tumultuous love affair between a young, penniless singer songwriter and a showgirl.

Set at the turn of the 20th century, American Christian (Des Flanagan) has just arrived in Paris and heads straight for Montemarte.

There he chances upon two artistes – Toulouse-Lautrec (Bert LaBonté) and Santiago (Ryan Gonzalez) – who are part of the Bohemian movement.

They are looking to compose a new play with songs, but are having trouble with the lyrics. Christian helps them out.

In return, they encourage him to visit the Moulin Rouge cabaret – birthplace of the modern can-can.

They want impresario Harold Zidler (Simon Burke) to stage their show at the venue.

Their ploy is for Christian to sweet talk leading lady Satine (Alinta Chidzey) – a former courtesan – into convincing Zidler to do so.

Only what they don’t realise is that Zidler is in serious debt and the club is on the cusp of closing.

To that end, Zidler hopes to call upon wealthy but arrogant The Duke (James Bryers) to bail them out.

Zidler, too, is using Satine as bait.

The moment they see her, Christian and The Duke are both smitten, only The Duke wants Satine all to himself and he is used to getting his way … or else.

Alinta Chidzey dazzles in the lead, a torn, at times forlorn, figure who shines like a sparkling diamond the moment she is lowered onto the stage.

Des Flanagan wears his heart on his sleeve as her bold, persistent and love-struck pursuer.

James Bryers is imposing and menacing as his affluent, entitled adversary (the villain in the piece).

Simon Burke is all about affectations, bringing swagger to his portrayal of the Moulin Rouge mover and shaker.

I was particularly taken by the nuances in character that Bert LaBonté brought to Toulouse-Lautrec. He was a standout to me.

Ryan Gonzalez is a showstopper, alongside no-nonsense performer Nini (Samantha Dodemaide) as the pair hit it out of the park at the start of Act II.

Earlier, I referenced the staging. The set changes are prolific and seamless.

While red and black predominate, Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a cavalcade of colour and movement, with costuming to die for.

The choreography is hypnotising – as good as you can get.

I urge you to see this dynamic production that leaves everything on the stage.

It is masterful and playing at the Regent Theatre until the end of 2023.

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Alex First

Alex First

Alex First believes all people have a story to tell, if only a good playwright can prize it out of them. Alex has a natural curiosity about the world and believes a strong narrative, or narrative with music, can open the door to subjects about which he knows little. Like his parents before him, theatre is his passion – a passion with emotional resonance, one that moves and excites him. He brings decades’ experience as an arts’ connoisseur to his role as a critic.
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