Review by Michelle Fisher
The Capitol theatre lends itself perfectly to what can only be described as an extravaganza of a musical – every aspect, an assault to the senses, but in the best possible way. The staging is opulent and decadent and from the moment the doors open you are transported to the sexual/ sensual world of bohemian Paris and of the Moulin Rouge. Cast members strut the stage as patrons take their seats and on Opening night, a night filled with glitz and glamour, the energy and excitement was palpable.
Derek McLane’s extraordinary set design takes your breath away from first glance and is complemented perfectly by the unique, spectacularly detailed array of amazing costumes by Catherine Zuber. Together McLane and Zuber ensure that not only are you completely immersed in the performance, you are indeed totally transported to the Moulin Rouge.
This musical adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s famous jukebox musical movie has all the sparkle of its movie predecessor, but the score has been updated to include music from the last 20 years including Adele, Rihanna and a host of others. Heading into the show, one understands that as a jukebox musical, there are no original songs coming and whilst that can mostly be forgiven by the big production numbers being the spectacle that they are, there were some medleys incorporated that left the main characters looking like they were in a game of fast dash karaoke. For me, the musical selection/score was the show’s only downfall, and only sometimes. Still, the audience in general seemed to love every minute and many left the theatre singing and dancing their favourites down the streets outside.
The show has been well cast with Alinta Chidzey portraying Satine – the beloved leading lady of the Moulin Rouge. She is every bit the dazzling “femme fatale” she is supposed to be with a glamour and the vocals to match. Des Flanagan plays her young lover and whilst his portrayal of the role is believable, at times he lacked the vocal capacity to reach the top notes needed. Simon Burke does a fabulous job as the flamboyant, larger than life Harold Zidler, the club owner. Andrew Cook, Tim Omaji, Ryan Gonzales and Samantha Dodemaide all add their own flair to their characters and together create some strong and highly entertaining moments.
Again, as with many Australian productions I have been so pleased to see lately, the ensemble is extraordinarily hard working and talented with magnificent dance numbers choreographed by the fabulous Sonya Tayeh . This ensemble has some huge production numbers and they attack each with passion and excitement. It is truly a pleasure to see the talent in Australia of young actors and dancers trained to be triple threats and easily matching and exceeding any ensembles on any world stage.
Moulin Rouge is definitely a package that will excite audiences, even those who generally fidget and clock watch during a two-and-a-half-hour performance. There is no down time and there is something here for everyone. An enjoyable evening of wonder at the theatre. Make sure you don’t miss this one.