Moulin Rouge the Musical

Equity Production in Ft. Lauderdale

By: - Mar 08, 2024

You will surely marvel at the many gorgeous visuals in Moulin Rouge! The (Stage) Musical.  Undoubtedly, they are breathtaking to behold. Therefore, as a memento, you may wish to buy a picture-filled souvenir program sold at performances of a solid equity national touring production of the joyful show. It often carries the carefree, celebratory aura of a party. Expect at least one surprise.

Under Alex Timbers’ thoughtful direction, the production opened recently at Ft. Lauderdale’s Broward Center for the Performing Arts. It remains there through March 17.

While this jukebox musical dazzles with spectacle and song (it seems to include every pop hit you can recall), the stage adaptation is not as riveting as the source material. Of course, that is the renowned 2001 Baz Luhrmann movie, also titled Moulin Rouge.

Most likely, while experiencing the stage version, you won’t warm the edge of your seat wondering whether good will prevail against evil. In fact, you may look at your watch, as the show tends to drag in the second act.

Moulin Rouge The (Stage) Musical takes place in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris, France during the Belle Epoque era at the turn of the 20th century. The arts, among other things, flourished during this prosperous and lively time period.

Specifically, the show tells the tale of Christian, a young American composer and writer who comes to Paris searching for inspiration. While at the famous Moulin Rouge, Christian falls in love with cabaret actress and courtesan Satine, the star of the Moulin Rouge and the establishment’s “sparkling diamond.” However, the master of ceremonies has promised Satine to the money-motivated and malevolent Duke of Monroth. In return, he has promised to help fund the Moulin Rouge, which has suffered financially. The Duke also agrees to financially back the play that Christian and other bohemians are creating.

The Duke, Santine, and Christian form the love triangle at the center of this melodramatic tale. It is a rather thin story; it does little more than pit the Duke against Christian in the battle for Satine.

While the story lacks depth, even in the movie starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, the fast-moving, suspenseful film rivets until the heart-stopping conclusion.

True, the roughly two-and-a-half-hour stage musical adaptation (including an intermission) lacks palpable tension, for the most part. But the live version is mostly faithful to the film. Among the differences, the live show fleshes out at least one of the characters. And it includes more songs than the film.

Some of the songs make more sense within the context of the story than others. But if you are allergic to jukebox musicals, merely hearing able-voiced performers sing this show’s well-known pop hits may be enough to satisfy you. By the way, a live orchestra robustly accompanies the performers.

Most of the roughly 70 songs are chart-toppers of the past several decades. The lineup includes “Your Song,” “Lady Marmalade,” the title number from “The Sound of Music,” “Diamonds are Forever,” “Single Ladies,” “Seven Nation Army,” and “Toxic.”

The show includes many songs merely in snippets (at times, the characters communicate in mash-up numbers).

While Moulin Rouge The Musical is heavy on spectacle, it also celebrates ideals such as truth, beauty, freedom, and love. And in today’s divisive world, how can you not welcome this? The musical also carries an infectious spirit suggesting that, no matter what, the “show must go on.” To be more specific, Satine is suffering from tuberculosis (back then called “consumption).” Despite this, she insists that the play within a play (the one that Christian and fellow bohemians are creating) open and run as planned. You have to admire Satine for her selflessness.

It’s easy to root for Christian and Satine to be together. In addition to their charm, they convey a devotion to each other that is touching. Indeed, the lyrics include the following: “I will love you until my dying day. Oh, come what may, come what may.”

Perhaps we would root for the couple even more if the production included a more threatening Duke, one as sly and fierce as the film’s version. Indeed, Richard Roxburgh portrayed him as though he were a sneaky snake.

In the production running through March 17 in Ft. Lauderdale, a cold and confident Andrew Brewer portrays the Duke of Monroth. He may not seem vicious on the outside. Still, your blood may freeze when you hear that he once threw a vial of acid in the face of a woman who betrayed him.

As Satine, Gabrielle McClinton conveys her character’s vulnerability, endearing her to us. You feel for her, especially as she becomes more and more ill. McClinton’s Satine is also seductive at times, although not nearly as much as Kidman in the film.

McClinton shares strong chemistry with Christian Douglas. He deftly portrays the character who shares Douglas’s first name, imbuing Christian with convincing eagerness and charm. Also, Douglas has a booming voice.

Robert Petkoff lends charisma to Harold Zidler, the Moulin Rouge’s master of ceremonies who may remind you of another MC in a different European city. I’m referring, of course, to the mysterious MC in Cabaret, set in late 1920s Berlin as the Nazis rise to power.

You may recall that Cabaret’s MC tries to convince us that “in here, life is beautiful.” But in saying that, he is lying.

Contrastingly, life is beautiful in the Moulin Rouge and Zidler lets us know it.

“Welcome, you gorgeous collection of reprobates and rascals, artistes and arrivistes, soubrettes and sodomites,” Zidler tells us. “No matter your sin, you are welcome here.”

Zidler is one of the first characters we see at the beginning of the musical. It starts out as kind of a cabaret show. For a while, you may think the whole evening will unfold as a Vegas style revue. It takes a while before book writer John Logan introduces the central conflict.

The MC isn’t the only character to break the “Fourth Wall.” At one point, Christian asks us to “think back” and “try to remember your first real love affair.”

If your answer is that you fell in love with live theater years ago, you will appreciate the theatricality of the stage adaptation. Surely, as a live theater aficionado, you will also appreciate the title song to The Sound of Music. In addition, one scene may remind you of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, that bloody Stephen Sondheim revenge thriller and cautionary tale.

While some visuals in a production of Sweeney Todd may be gory, that is hardly the case here. Credit scenic designer Derek McLane for creating with impressive detail the show’s multiple sets. With as many set pieces as this show includes, you wonder how many large trucks are required to transport this production from city to city. From a windmill to a realistic-looking Eifel Tower and a star-filled night sky, there is no shortage of things to see.

As you enter the theater, the curtain is open to reveal what looks like several prosceniums shaped like hearts. Certainly that is appropriate, considering the show’s emphasis on love. The production also includes a picturesque scene that provides us with a glimpse into the French upper class, of which the Duke is a part.

Lighting designer Justin Townsend has also done fine work in this production. For instance, he bathes the stage in red during scenes involving passion.

Sound designer Peter Hylsenski creates a vibrant sound, especially when the music includes an infectious beat. The sound is so intense, you may feel as though that beat is in your chest.

Costume designer Catherine Zuber’s colorful and varied period clothes are striking. In addition, they appear not to interfere with the performers’ movements. That is important, since the show includes highly physical choreography. (the choreographer is Sonya Tayeh).

It is almost time to pack the pubs to celebrate everything Irish. But before St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, there is a party in Ft. Lauderdale, Parisian style. With that in mind, it’s time to pop the champagne and celebrate at Moulin Rouge The Musical.


The equity national touring production of Moulin Rouge the Musical runs through March 17 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. The address is 201 S.W. 5th Ave. in Ft. Lauderdale. For showtimes and to buy tickets, go to