Magnifique” from the moment you step into the theater until the moment you leave, Moulin Rouge! The Musical is an extravagant feast for the eyes, ears and heart. Presented by Broadway in Portland, the North American Tour is playing at Keller Auditorium now through January 15. If you don’t already have tickets for this one, do yourself a favor and get them before they sell out!

Credit: Matthew Murphy for Murphy Made

Based on the 2001 film starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge! The Musical translates beautifully to the stage. In fact, I actually prefer the stage version to the movie. The wild energy of this spectacular live performance is impossible to capture on a screen, no matter how big your screen may be. With new music, a simplified story and a fantastic cast, there’s much to love about this 2021 Tony Award winner for Best Musical that is glamorous and passionate from start to finish. 

Like the film, the stage adaptation tells the story of Christian, a naive young composer and his tragic love affair with courtesan Satine, the “sparkling diamond” of the Moulin Rouge nightclub in Paris, France. Though it takes place at the turn of the 20th century, the music spans 160 years, from “The Can-Can” to Lady Gaga, with just about everything in between. So many songwriters are credited, it takes almost three full columns of tiny print in the program to list them all. You wouldn’t think a mash-up of songs like this would work together, but somehow they do. The familiarity of these popular songs, and the fact that you can clearly understand the lyrics makes it hard not to dance in your seat and sing along. 

And the performers aren’t the only stars of the show. In an age where more and more Broadway shows rely on video projections as backdrops, it’s thrilling to see the lavish sets, gorgeous costumes and sparkling lighting by Tony Award winning designers Derek McLane, Catherine Zuber and Justin Townsend. The eye candy alone is worth the price of admission.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is recommended for theatergoers ages 12 and up for adult themes, mild sexual content, alcohol use and suggestive dancing by often scantily clad performers. Though I tend to err on the conservative side of age recommendations, in this case I’d even take a mature ten or eleven-year-old, especially if they love dancing. The best orchestra seats for kids and vertically challenged adults like me are in rows K and back, where the slope begins in earnest. 

Arrive early for a pre-show teaser and stay until the end of the curtain call for an infectious sing-along. Visit the restroom before you take your seats as the lines for both the mens and ladies’ rooms are so long during intermission, not everyone can be accommodated, and late seating for Act Two is not allowed until after the first musical number. Tickets are still available for most remaining performances and start at $44.75. As of this writing, masks are encouraged but not required. Check with the theater before you go for the latest on COVID safety precautions.

Elizabeth Ely Moreno
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