HOLLYWOOD (News4usonline) – The first thought about the hit Broadway stage play “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” is that the production is one big extravaganza of old genres set of music with super flashy and eye-popping sets. If it’s a full-blown spectacle you’re hoping to see, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” delivers wholeheartedly with an exclamation point.
But looking closely, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” is a wonderful show that moves well beyond its glitz and glamour and centers its storyline around an unlikely romantic venture between a young woman indulged in the world of harlotry and a wandering poet. If this scenario seems a bit Interesting, it is.
The two lovers play a game of hide and seek banter all throughout the production that keeps the audience wondering if the ending will be one of triumph or swallowed up in tragedy. There is no spoiler alert here. “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” is playing at the famous Hollywood Pantages Theatre until Sept.4, so if you find yourself a bit curious about seeing the show, you’ll have plenty of time to scoot down and catch a performance.
If you miss seeing the musical this time around, there is no need to fret because “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” will take its marvelous cast to Orange County where they will perform from Nov. 9 to Nov. 27 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Okay, enough with all of the formalities, let’s get back to the show. It is no small wonder that “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” has won 10 Tony Awards.
“Moulin Rouge! The Musical” Is a fun ride that carries the audience all over the Paris circuit. Set in or around 1899, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” opens up and carries the first half of the show with big musical numbers that require a large ensemble of bodies on stage that pushes the envelope in the erotica department.
That’s the big selling point of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.” Then again, it should be with its setting set in a brothel and its main character reveling in being that sparkle in any man’s eyes. When we first see Satine, played with ferocious potency by the beautiful and supremely talented Courtney Reed, she is emboldened on her sex worker throne by the bombastic and egotistical Harold Zidler, who serves as the shady ringleader of the Moulin Rouge club.
Austin Durant does a masterful job of presenting the many sides to Zidler. Zidler is a charming fellow who you can readily like. He’s witty. He’s street smart. He has clout. He’s also a businessman who has a thirst for money above all else.
That means Zidler will do just about anything and everything to appease his customers at the Moulin Rouge club, including making Satine the “it” girl for the highest bidder. In layman’s terms, Zidler would set up Satine to have sex relations win men for profit.
It turns out that Zidler finds one such customer in the Duke of Monroth (David Harris) who just doesn’t want to satisfy a night quest of Satine; he wants all of her. Period. The Duke of Monroth even gets to the point that he is willing to buy the Moulin Rouge club from Zidler just so he can own Satine by buying her love.
Love doesn’t operate on such a premise. Love is an unconditional thing, which Christian (Conor Ryan) gets and understands the moment he lays eyes on Satine. Christian happens to stumble around Paris looking and hoping to find a spot that will cater to his writing and singing ambitions. Sure enough, there’s always a taker or two.
In this case, the takers are Santiago (Gabe Martinez) and the electric Toulouse-Lautrec (Andre Ward). As they try to figure out the next great skit for Satine, along comes Christian. Both Santiago and Toulouse-Lautrec are enthralled by Christian’s vocal chops and immediately plan for the stranger to meet up with Satine to drum up a new production for her show.
The chance meeting between Satine and Christian unexpectedly winds up being a precursor to a love triangle when you include the Duke of Monroth, the consummate unwanted third wheel. The love interest storyline is well executed by Reed’s Satine and Ryan’s Christian character. Satine and Christian’s relationship is both sensual and endearing. It is a natural fit. It’s a fairytale turned upside down.
Because of her checkered lifestyle and past, Satine is yearning for the type of love she and Christian have. As for Ryan, whenever I think about his role as Christian, it flutters me back to Enchantment’s “Silly Love Song,” one of the best love songs ever written. If you ever wanted to feel slow-burn, sensual heat in a song this is it. This is the beauty of Christian’s appeal. He writes these silly love songs and is able to woo Satine with plenty of fire and passion to back it up.
This type of love gives a beaten-down Satine hope. It gives her something to hold on to as she struggles to navigate trying to choose true love or become just another material girl being bought and sold like a piece of property. Satine goes from being pimped and controlled by one man to being bought and owned by another.
It is a cruel twist of fate for Satine, who wants to leave the sex worker industry altogether. It is an unglamorous life, one that Satine is ready to throw behind her. Reed, who originated the role of Jasmine in Disney’s “Aladdin,” is magnificent as Satine. The role of Satine seemed tailor-made for Reed who is an absolute delight. Ryan hits all the right notes as Christian and is equally as powerful as Reed in making his character spring to life.
It takes a village, however, to make a show like “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” work. From the lead actors to cast members to the hairstylists and makeup artists to wardrobe personnel, everybody has to be in sync with one another. When that happens, it makes for a magical experience.
Featured Image: Conor Ryan as Christian and Courtney Reed as Satine in the North American Tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMad