Tuesday, July 30, 2019

"Moulin Rouge" at the Al Hirschfeld Theater

Content warnings: gun use, suicidal ideation, terminal illness

"Moulin Rouge" is a show about an idealistic but penniless Bohemian sent to convince a courtesan to support a play who falls in love with her. The courtesan initially thinks he is the rich duke who is her latest client. When she is discovered with the artist, she convinces the duke they were practicing to demonstrate a show she wants him to patronize. Needless to say heartbreak and such follow as they try to not fall in love and put on this play that is starting to reflect the triangle they are engaged in. It is a jukebox musical turned up to eleven with songs remixed, re-jiggered and cut together. 
There is nothing subtle about this show, not the elephant, the windmill, the multitude of chandeliers, the lights or the sound. The pace is frenetic for most of it. And it is a great party for much of it. 
The cast is wonderful. It is a Broadway show where ear protection might not go amiss. There is great choreography and I personally think whoever had to work however many song clearances this show requires deserves special mention.
I saw a review quote outside the theater that mentioned the pace and thought, well that is a quote that tells me little. The pace is notable, it is not a relaxing show, it is a fun show to watch, even when things don't go well for everyone. 

Now, those who haven't seen the movie should stop reading now. And anyone who wants to be surprised. 

I don't usually post spoilers in reviews, however the changes are notable and it's hard to talk about them without being specific. In general if you liked the movie I think the musical just goes a little further. But if there are concerns, some changes have hopefully addressed those. If you hated the movie, hate mashup songs more than jukebox musicals, that's still what this is, so this show is still not for you. 

The basics of the movie remain the same. Latrec is not digitally shortened here, but the actor (who does not appear disabled, though I admit Latrec's specific injuries are hopefully much rarer these days) uses a cane and is referred to as short. 
The stakes are amplified. And Satine does sleep with the duke (which does mean the loss of one particular song from the movie - overall, there are more songs and song snippets added than lost though). The duke is not only supporting the show, but buying the club, and his opinion, all the employees. Satine is aware she is dying, and also made aware that the duke has been known to take specific revenge when his jealousy is roused. Instead of the Orpheus and Eurydice inspired breakup, Christian threatens his own life on stage, forcing Satine to break out their love song to make him stop. But she still dies in his arms.