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Be the First to See Moulin Rouge! The Musical before It Heads to Broadway

Stage version of hit film marks grand reopening of Emerson Colonial Theatre


MoulinRouge!, the hit 2001 Oscar-winning film by Baz Luhrmann set in turn-of-the-20th-century Paris, was so successful that it not only grossed $180 million worldwide, but relaunched a genre—the Hollywood musical—that had long been pronounced dead. The film, which tells the story of an impoverished writer, Christian, who falls in love with a dazzling chanteuse, Satine, the star of the Moulin Rouge nightclub, has just been adapted for the stage. Now titled Moulin Rouge! The Musical, it is making its theatrical debut at the newly restored Emerson Colonial Theatre en route to Broadway.

The stage musical—which reportedly cost $28 million to mount—features many of the pop song mash-ups that made the film such a hit, but about 50 percent of the score includes new selections. And the book of the show has been tweaked to provide new back stories and narrative threads as well. Alex Timbers, the Tony-nominated director of Rocky, Peter and the Starcatcher, and Bloody Andrew Jackson, directs. The cast includes Karen Olivo, who won a Tony for her role as Anita in the Broadway reboot of West Side Story, as Satine, and Aaron Tveit as Christian. Tveit has performed in several Broadway hits including Wicked and Next to Normal. The production also stars six-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein as Harold Zidler, the host of the Moulin Rouge, and Sahr Ngaujah as the real-life artist Toulouse-Lautrec.

Reviewing the musical earlier this week in The New York Times, critic Ben Brantley praised it as a “smart, shameless and extravagantly entertaining production” that retains the film’s glamour, while serving up  “a lot more grit.”

It’s rare today for a show to debut in Boston before it hits Broadway, but that wasn’t always the case. Throughout much of the 20th century, the city was famous for being a Broadway try-out town. And it’s fitting that Moulin Rouge! The Musical should be debuting at the Emerson Colonial Theatre, which opened in 1900 as the Colonial Theatre and hosted more than its share of pre-Broadway musicals, including Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma and Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. The theater, which is owned by Emerson College, was shuttered in 2015 and nearly became a college dining hall before a deal was brokered to return it to its former theatrical grandeur.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is at the Emerson Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston Street, through August 19. Tickets range from $70 to $250 and can be purchased here or by calling the Emerson Colonial Theatre box office at (888) 616-0272. Via public transportation, take an MBTA Green Line train to Boylston Street.

Carina Imbornone can be reached at carinami@bu.edu.


One Comment on Be the First to See Moulin Rouge! The Musical before It Heads to Broadway

  • Joel Brandwine on 08.07.2018 at 7:47 am

    It should be noted that the show had multiple BU graduates working on it. The Deck Automation Carpenter is Alex Brandwine (CFA ’08), the Advance Carpenter is Joel Brandwine (CFA ’01), Assistant Lighting Designer is Katy Atwell (CFA ’15), Lightning Assistant is Jessica Elliot (CFA ’16), and the Technical Production Assistant is Jennifer Ruygt (CFA ’20) and multiple costume elements were built by Colin Jones (CFA ’10)

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