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Moulin Rouge The Musical Sydney July 2022

In this Culture Story, I share with you my thoughts on the Moulin Rouge The Musical, Sydney production that we were fortunate to be invited to watch last week.

This musical is based on the Film "Moulin Rouge". This Sydney production is extra special as the the Film "Moulin Rouge" was made in Sydney in 2001. So after 21 years, Moulin Rouge has come home to us.

Moulin Rouge The Musical first premiered on Broadway at the Al Hirscheld Theatre in July 2019. It was a runaway success and for very good reasons!

The Broadway production of Moulin Rouge won 10 awards at the 2021 Tony Awards including Best Musical.

The logistics, seating and treats

Moulin Rouge The Musical Sydney

I'll start with some "logistical matters" first. The Sydney production was held at the Capitol Theatre in Haymarket. Parking is available next to the theatre. It is also extremely convenient to travel there by public transport.

Moulin Rouge The Musical Sydney

Moulin Rouge The Musical Sydney, Photo Credit: Michelle Grace Hunder

We were treated to the Capitol Class experience which meant excellent seats (4 rows from the front) and treats like frozen cocktails (I had the "Lady Marmalade" and my husband had the "Green Fairy" - both absolutely delicious). I highly recommend that you chose this option if you are going to watch the musical. There were also special "Can Can! Table Seating" option, where you are seated at tables right up close with the main stage. It is a lovely experience as you feel like you are in an actual bar/cabaret, but there is a second smaller stage behind these tables. This means you have to keep turning back to watch the back of the performers. Also I noticed that when the smoke machine was on, the guests at the Can Can Tables were coughing.

They also have very cute merchandise available. The prices are fairly reasonable.

About the story

This is a story of Trust, Beauty, Freedom and Love! The storyline is the same as the Film. If you haven't seen either, I won't give away any spoilers. Let's just say that this is a love story set in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris in 1889. It is described as a "jukebox musical romantic drama" as the majority of the songs are well-known popular music songs, rather than original music. It is about a boy who meets a girl and their love affair that happens against the glitz and glamour of the Moulin Rouge. There is a slight change in the story line from the Film, instead of Christian being a Londoner, he comes from the U.S.A. Also, the character of famous artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is portrayed as being a cripple requiring a walking can, instead of how the real Toulouse-Lautrec (and Film version) has very short legs due to a medical condition.

About the Cast

The Sydney production has a full Australian cast from what I can tell from the program.

The leads are Alinta Chidzey for the role of "Satine" (on our night, we had the alternate, Patrice Topoki) and in the lead role of "Christian", it was Des Flanagan.

Other key roles were played by:

  • Harold Zigler - Simon Burke (AO)

  • Tim Omaji - Toulouse-Lautrec

  • The Duke - Andrew Cook

  • Santiago - Ryan Gonzalez

  • Nini - Samantha Dodemaide

The ensemble cast and swings were made up of Australia's finest performers.

Their performances begin the moment the audience are allowed to enter the theatre auditorium. You can see the supporting cast walking around and interacting with each other. Some sitting around and having a smoke. There are also acrobatic performances.

They were supported by an excellent 8 piece band conducted by Luke Hunter. You don't get to see the band, as it is off stage. However, if you are in the stall seats in the front section, you can turn back and see the conductor on screens pinned on the skirting of the circle seats.

I particularly enjoyed the performances by Des Flanagan as "Christian". He portrays the young fresh face boy discovering life and love so genuinely. I also enjoyed the performance of Simon Burke (AO) as "Harold Zigler" and I thought that Andrew Cook as "The Duke" was amazing.

The character of "The Duke" in the film comes across as a bit creepy and lecherous. In the musical, he actually comes across like a more likeable character. It also helps that he is quite handsome! His voice is amazing.

I was a bit let down by the performance of Alinta Chidzey as "Satine". The performance lacked the coquettish charm of "Satine" in the film. My husband thought she came across a bit "stiff". Her vocal performance was brilliant but I think the role of "Satine" as portrayed by Nicole Kidman as a French fun, cheeky sex pot ingenue was what I wanted and expected for "Satine".

The performances are very physically demanding with almost non-stop dancing. At some points, we could see the performers puffing from the exertion. In one scene, the performer missed his lighting mark. Some of the performers looked a bit scared on one of the moving set piece. It came across like they weren't fully settled into their roles.

If I was brutally honest, the performances were not as polished as some of the more recent musicals that I have seen. I have also watched a show at the real Moulin Rouge in Paris. That being said though, I think with the physical and technical demands on the performers, they did admirably well and it is worth every cent to watch the Australian production.

The Music

As a jukebox musical, the song choice and arrangement is perfection! Probably the best jukebox musical ever.

The Musical, having premiered in 2019, 18 years after the Film, has an updated musical score including more popular pop hits like:

  • Only Girl (In The World);

  • Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" - which was a main feature (not as part of a medley);

  • "Chandelier" by Sia (also performed as a main feature);

  • Rihanna's "Diamonds" (as part of a medley)

  • Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" (a main feature)

I so love the new arrangement and I think it is definitely a better version than the Film - to be fair, it is mostly because I love the songs listed above.

If you love pop songs, this is the musical for you. Each pop song is so cleverly woven into the storyline. Pure genius! Honestly, I'm so blown away by the cleverness of the arrangement and the choice of songs. Every song works perfectly well for the storyline. They all fit perfectly like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle.

I can't stop listening to the soundtrack now.

This genius music arrangement was headed by Justine Levine (for music supervision, orchestrations, arrangements and additional lyrics). Justine won many awards for Moulin Rouge including an Outer Circle Critics Award Honour and a Tony Award.

He is assisted by Luke Hunter (Musical Director) and Stephen Amos (Associate Music Supervision) in the Australian production.

The Sets and Lighting

The Sydney production is/was held at the Capitol Theatre. I can't think of a better venue in Sydney for Moulin Rouge The Musical! The Capital Theatre as a bit of a Roman Theme to it with Roman statues and pillars.

This is a mind-blowing set design that has won awards and definitely deserves more!

They made FULL use of the stage and sides and even included "cages" on the closest circle seats where acrobats performed.

Moulin Rouge The Musical Sydney

To the left of the stage is a replica of the Moulin Rouge windmill, fully working and lighted up. The right of the stage is a handsome replica of the Blue Elephant (Satine's room in the Film) with a bar below which is used by the performers to serve and get "drinks".

There is a replica circle seat that the performers use on both sides of the main stage.

Moulin Rouge The Musical Sydney

There is a semi circle stage that extends out beyond the main stage with a walkway in the middle. This part of the set is also often used by the performers. So if you are in the Can Can seats, you become part of the set but it gets a bit hard to see the performances as they have their backs to you.

The main stage was exquisitely designed with clever moving sets. There are multiple heart shape portals at the beginning that are used during different parts of the Musical. The theatre is draped in nine different types of red fabric, with different hues and textures, adding opulence to the set. The stage has many layers. For example, for Toulouse-Lautrec's apartment, you see beyond the windows a scenic view of the Moulin Rouge with spinning windmill and the Blue Elephant. The same multi layers design is also used for Satine's room. For scenes set in other parts of Paris are equally multi-dimensional with mini replicas of Montmartre buildings. The sets are designed to capture the spirit of the sweeping cameras used in the Film.

There is also a rotating Eiffel Tower that features prominently in one main scene with the performers climbing and swinging from it.

The scenic designer is Derek McLane, who also won an Outer Circle Critics Award Honour and a Tony Award for Moulin Rouge The Musical. He drew on his life experiences and the years he spent living in Paris and India. He incorporated intense colours and patterns from India. This is quite fitting for the period in which Moulin Rouge The Musical is set as the exotica of the Far East, North Africa and India heavily influenced the artists and Bohemians of the time.

The Lighting design is also award winning. It realty captured the spirit of Moulin Rouge the FIlm. It was also quite evocative and emotive at times. Lighting design was done by Justine Townsend, who won a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Circle Critics Award Honour and a Tony Award for Moulin Rouge The Musical.

The Australia Production's set design and lighting design were supported by Isabel Hudson (Set Design Associate) and Gavan Swift (Lighting Design Associate).

Oh and be prepared for lots of smoke machines, glitter, and confetti. What fun!

The Costumes

Of course the costumes are fabulous! They are such a part of the show. I loved every single piece. From the risqué outfits of the cabaret performers to Satine's full jewel adorned costumers, all were so beautiful. They were of course inspired by the costume designs of the Film.

Costume designer Catherine Zuber won a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Circle Critics Award Honour and a Tony Award for Moulin Rouge The Musical. So you can be assured that they are all very "Spectacular! Spectacular!". A lot of work and elements went into each costume. Wigs were also part of the story.

Overall - Spectacular! Spectacular!

Overall, I give Moulin Rouge The Musical a 4.8 stars out of 5. I would give it a 5 star rating overall except for the not-quite-yet polished performances.

The Musical goes on for about 2.5 hours. This Musical has so many amazing and delightful elements that I felt like we were only here for 20 minutes. My husband and I found it absolutely captivating. We enjoyed every second of it!

I highly recommend that you watch this Musical if you loved the Film. Also do choose the best seats you can afford (maybe not the Can Can tables) as they will be worth every cent. This couple in the row behind us kept saying "oh these seats are so so good!". We sat in the stalls in row F of the Capitol Theatre as part of the Capitol Class experience. Do also pick up some of the merch especially the souvenir book which gives you more information about the Film and the Musical.

Moulin Rouge The Musical Merch

I hope you enjoyed this review! I do hope to write more reviews of live performances, films and other cultural events. Please do subscribe to my blog (see various (they are irritating and I am sorry about that) pop up boxes or sign up in the box below). Drop me an email (tashi@paintbytashijadebell) or DM me on my Instagram (@paint_bytashijadebell) and let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions for me. I always love hearing from you.

Yours Truly with Lots of Love, Tashi Jade Bell


Disclaimer: Photo Credit: Michelle Grace Hunder. For photos with my watermark (which were taken by me/husband), you cannot use them without obtaining my written permission first. These are my personal views and I do not any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any message and will not be held responsible for the content of any message. We were invited to Opening Night of An American in Paris, the Musical by PR with no obligation to post about it.


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