Sydney's Capitol Theatre has been graced with many memorable Broadway productions over the years, but none quite as energetic and extravagant as the new Australian production Moulin Rouge! The show is a love story based on the popular motion picture of the same name from 2001 directed by fellow Australian Baz Luhrmann. The musical however builds on what was created in the film and shoots the concept into the stratosphere providing arguably one of the most entertaining and fun nights you will experience this year. There is fabulous music, laughter, drama and despair, as well as some of the best staging and dance numbers you will ever see. Audiences will be in complete awe as they are instantly transported into the sexy Parisian nightclub as soon as they walk through the theatre's doors.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical originated on Broadway in 2019 with incredible fanfare. After a highly successful run in New York the show opened in Melbourne in 2020, collecting 10 Tony Awards on the way. With the blessing of Baz Luhrmann, director Alex Timbers has managed to construct a masterpiece of entertaining thrills and awe-inspiring visuals. This is all interconnected with a sensational selection of over 70 songs spanning a hundred years of popular music, with verses and choruses interweaved into a compelling plot courtesy of composer Justin Levine. Lyrics from artists include the likes of Shirley Bassey, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Sia, Rihanna, Beyonce, Adele, Outcast, Gnarls Barkley and even Natalie Imbruglia. While many of the songs are familiar, it is like hearing them for the first time, bringing the lyrics into a new context and creating an emotional and entertaining ride.
The incredible staging is one of the absolute highlights of the production. Intricate attention to detail and extravagance will greet audiences as soon as they arrive. The environment is surreal and awe-inspiring, literally transporting audiences to another dimension or perhaps another time resembling an opulent and pristine turn of the century Paris. The majestic stage design is courtesy of Derek McLane. He creates a highly stylised version of the sexy Parisian nightclub with many recognisable elements. There is the windmill made famous by the original Moulin Rouge, as well as the elephant that featured in the movie, in addition to lavish lighting that has to be seen to be believed. The experience is well worth the price of admission.
Starring in the lead role of Satine, the sparkling diamond and most desired courtesan of the Moulin Rouge, is Alinta Chidzey. She shines brightly in the production, emanating an amazing aura that rivals Nicole Kidman. With harmonious vocals and a provocative charisma, she steals the stage every time she is present. At the same time, she elegantly balances these elements with tremendous emotional depth, as the character of Satine rides a rollercoaster of tribulations while at the same time fighting her mortality. It is a compelling performance that is as sexy as it is heart-wrenching. Alinta Chidzey deserves a lot of credit as she excels in the role, adding to her already stellar resume that includes Velma Kelly in Chicago and Anita in West Side Story. Her role as Satine is the best yet and includes a stunning entrance and musical number that will leave audiences in awe and wanting more.
Des Flanagan adopts the role of bohemian Christian, made famous by Ewan McGregor. He does so with amazing wide-eyed optimism and charm that is very believable, as the character pursues his vision of ideal love. He is the perfect casting, and much more true to the film than the Broadway depiction. At the same time, Flanagan displays a broad emotional range that is palpable, particularly during the second act as Christian's dreams begin to unravel. This is complemented by his wonderful vocal ability which is endearing and heartfelt. It is a fabulous performance that perfectly compliments the sultry nature of Satine. As a pair, Des Flanagan and Alinta Chidzey have fantastic chemistry, feeling organic, truthful and very genuine. It is a bond that is difficult to create on stage, yet they seem to find their connection seamlessly. They are very well matched, and a lot of credit has to go to their casting and unique creative process.
Theatre veteran Simon Burke takes on the Harold Ziddler, depicting a version of the Moulin Rouge's charismatic showman that is delightful to witness. He has a lot to do in the role, including building up the spectacular arrival of Satine and encouraging audience participation with his welcoming and yet commanding stage persona. It is a role he clearly relishes, and at times has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. It is an amazing performance and deserves a lot of credit, even surpassing the work he did in the Sydney production of Pippin.
Other notable mentions include Tim Omaji who plays Toulouse-Lautrec and Andrew Cook who takes on the role of The Duke. Both are memorable on stage, with Omaji offering a charismatic performance that is balanced with a range of heartfelt moments. Meanwhile, Cook conjures a performance that is less zany than the Richard Roxburgh depiction from the film, instead opting more for an arrogant and elitist nature that is sure to have audiences hoping for his demise. As the main antagonist, he fulfils his purpose effectively.
The rest of the ensemble is simply fantastic, working in unison to create a diverse kaleidoscope of colour and high energy. Emma Russell and Giuliana Carniato particularly stand out, as they masterfully create mesmerising movement that is incredibly captivating to watch. From the engaging elements of the pre-show, to the compelling opening number, to probably the most fabulous version of the Can-can you will ever see, each moment is just as exciting as the last. It really is an incredible achievement in creativity, as each performer fulfils their part in transporting the audience to the surreal world of the Moulin Rouge. In short, theatregoers will be rebooking their return tickets in anticipation for more.
Overall, Moulin Rouge the Musical is an absolute must see at the Capitol Theatre and is sure to be the most sought-after ticket in town. Highly extravagant staging, mesmerising dance choreography, stellar performances and compelling musical numbers are all guaranteed to make Moulin Rouge the most fun night out you will have this year. Make sure to get your tickets as soon as you can. You won't regret it!
Moulin Rouge! The Musical - Alinta Chidzey and Des Flanagan Interview