Yes Moulin Rouge! The Musical has opened in London. And it’s bloody amazing.
A feel-good jukebox of a show, it’s finally showing at the Piccadilly Theatre (with 14 Tony nominations under its belt, and a crazy lineup of talent on stage) after ten years in the US & Australia. And boy have all of those practice runs paid off. Because it’s basically like a live version of the film, only better (well, different) with a number of fresh, updated lyrics and songs that seamlessly melt into the original score. Practically every scene delivers a smile to the mouth, tears to the eyes, or goosebumps to the arms – and at several points all three at the same time.
Baz Luhrmann’s a producer (he describes himself as “something of an uncle to the project”), it’s directed by Alex Timbers (Golden Globe winner) and everyone on stage – at least on the night that we went – absolutely smashed it, with stand out performances coming from Clive Carter (playing Harold Zidler); Jason Pennycooke (Toulouse-Lautrec) and Liisi LaFontaine as the sparkling diamond, Satine. The soundtrack somehow packs in an impossible-sounding 71 songs into the show, all woven together with both the score & each other, including a lot of new stuff that’s hit the charts in the two decades since the film came out. Yes, two decades... Expect a bit of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Florence and the Machine, Britney, SIA, OutKast, Beyonce, and even a spot of Rick Astley to thrown into the mix.
The real winner here though – alongside the performers, the entire production team, the West End, anyone who goes to see this, and the existence of theatre itself – is set Designer Derek McLane, who seamlessly leads the audience out of the bright lights and glamour of the Moulin Rouge and through the dressing rooms, apartments; theatres, rooftops, and alleyways of Belle Époque Paris. It’s genuinely a breathtaking set, and – as the show progresses – it becomes increasingly confusing as to where it all comes from. Luckily (or, um, perhaps by design) it’s on at the Piccadilly Theatre just off Chinatown, whose Art Deco auditorium is large enough for 1,400 audience members to take in a stage so large that it can accommodate dozens of performers and all of Mr. Mclane’s vast sets – including a windmill, and a rather large elephant.
In summary, it’s the live theatrical spectacle that you’ve been waiting for to shake off the cobwebs of the last couple of years, and to remind yourself why live entertainment – and, in particular, theatre of this calibre – beats Netflix and pyjamas hands down.
NOTE: Moulin Rouge! The Musical is now playing at the Piccadilly Theatre. You can get your tickets right HERE.
Piccadilly Theatre | 16 Denman St, W1D 7DY
Want to see what else is hitting the stage? Check out our ludicrously good London Theatre Guide