Review: “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” National Tour (****)

The cast of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” National Tour. From Left: André Ward, Courtney Reed, Conor Ryan, David Harris, Gabe Martínez.

by Charles Kruger

Reviewed by a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.

Let us begin by remarking that the jukebox musical, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” swept the Tonys winning a whopping 10 awards, and additional nominations. These things don’t happen by accident. This show is irresistable, pure theatrical candy.

The message is simple: Bohemia is wonderful. Love is wonderful. Nightlife is wonderful. Music is wonderful. Everybody dance!

Who could argue?

And who would want to argue when the delivery is this spectacular? The cast are beautiful and dance like angels. The characterizations are over the top and utterly charming. The script demands nothing from the audience but that we sit back and enjoy it. All the emotions are played upon from ecstatic joy to heartfelt grief and everything in between.

The villain is dastardly and the hero dashing. The slightly-used ingenue sings like the Broadway star she is. In fact, all of the triple threats in this polished cast are the tops! Believe me when I tell you, they  can can-can with the best!

And the design? It has all the splash, pizazz and theatrical mystique of the grandest (and most lavishly expensive) Grand Opera. Your eyes will pop.

The juke box samplings (never a full song) are endless and range from Rodgers and Hammerstein to the latest rap. Sometimes a song is referenced only in the dialog, and attentive audiences will be delighted to recognize them.

The casual fun of this musical is obvious. On opening night, when Conor Ryan, starring as Christian, began the  narration that precedes the second act (as the audience was still pouring through the doors), one audience member shouted back at him and they bantered back and forth.

Many audience members took the occasion to imbibe and wine poured freely throughout the house. This could be disconcerting but it was certainly consistent with the tone of the show. Late in the evening, one hapless fellow (who had already made numerous trips in and out during the performance), briefly face planted himself when he tripped drunkenly in the aisle in a second act promenade. Others were, occasionally, dancing in those aisles.

Overall, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” is light-weight, memorable fun.

“Moulin Rouge! The Musical” plays at the Orpeum Theater in San Francisco through November 9, 2022. For further information, click here.


Rating: **** (For an explanation of TheatreStorm’s rating scale, click here.)

“Moulin Rouge! The Musical.” Presented by BroadwaySF. Book by John Logan. Based on the 2001 Twentieth Century Studios motion picturre written by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Peace, directed by Baz Luhrmann. Director: Alex Timbers. Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh. Music Supervisor, Co-Orchestrator, Arrangements and Additional Lyrics by Justin Levine.


Arabia: Nicci Caspell. Harold Zeller: Austin Durant. The Duke of Monroth: David  Harris. Nini: Libby Lloyd. Santiago: Gabe Martínez. La Chocolat: Harper Miles. Baby Doll: Andrés Quintero. Satine: Courtney Reed. Christian: Conor Ryan. Toulouse-Lautrec: André Ward. Pierre: Sharrod Williams. Ensemble: Adrienne Balducci, Andrew Brewer, Nicci Claspell, Sam J. Cahn, Darius Crenshaw, Alexander Gil Cruz, Alexis Hasbrouck, Kent Overshown, Andrés Quintero, Adea Michelle Sessoms, Jean Stafford, Sharrod Williams, Jennifer Wolfe, Ricardo A. Zayas.

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