Say YES! to normal beautiful bodies being celebrated, to remembering how it feels to fall in love for the first time, and to above all things, to believe in Freedom, Beauty, Truth and Love. Think you know the Moulin Rouge? Think again!
When I was invited to go an see my all time favourite film as a West End production, I was a little apprehensive. As a teen, I watched Satine and Christian fall in love and knew instantly that this was the only true love (yay for teenage naivety!) Watching it as a hardened, sceptical nearly 30 and having to review it? Was I going fall in love or be left bitterly disappointed?
Walking into the auditorium was a show in itself. They had perfectly recreated the feeling of walking into the Moulin Rouge. Lavish red drapes covering every doorway, Satine's elephant on one side, the iconic red windmill on the other. The front two rows themselves became firmly part of the set, recreating the cabaret style seating as one by one members of the ensemble walked out on stage to tantalise and tease.
Then, four figures stride onto main stage, hold position, the audience falls silent. "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?" The crowd erupts!
The energy from there on out was electric. The audience were visibly buzzing and the choreography was on point! The ensemble throughout the show were utterly breath-taking. Their stamina through some of the high energy medleys was beyond all human reasoning. Just when one thought they couldn't possibly have anything left to give, the medley seamlessly transitioned into a whole new song and off they go.
The medleys themselves were spectacular spectacular! Forget the once highly priced mashups of Glee! This jukebox musical was in a whole other league. Justin Levine, who has already won a Tony Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award Honour for his work on the show, managed to amalgamate songs that left the audience in a state of constant excitement and uncontrollable anticipation at what was coming next. The only way to describe this soundtrack was like finding the holy grail of Spotify playlists where every song is (for want of a better word) a banger!
But what about Satine and Christian? What about this epic love story? Did I fall in love like a teenager all over again? Well if the tears falling from every person on my row during Come What May (including my own) are anything to go by, I think we may have fallen hard.
This show is Jamie Bogyo's professional debut, a risky move some might say but one that definitely pays off. The naivety, dream like over-excitability and charm was palpable throughout Jamie's performance, traits that make Christian every teenager's heartthrob. In the interval, I found myself writing "I wish he gave more on the top notes". For some reason, I just couldn't let go of the Ewan McGreggor rendition of Your Song but rightly so, Jamie showed me what I was missing. The tortured jealously in El Tango De Roxanne saw Jamie thoroughly let go during the big moments as goosebumps ran all over my body. The man had done it, Ewan who?
Our Satine was a true sparkling diamond. Liisi Lafontaine is the only voice I have heard who can come even a close second to the goddess Dame Shirley Bassey with her opening number of Diamonds Are Forever. And her rendition of Firework was so vulnerable, so delicate, that it made many a person around me discreetly wipe their eyes.
The only thing I would say is that her death wasn't as dramatic as I had assumed it would be. In fact, the consumption that plays such a major part in the film's storyline was more of a passing fact in the musical. But this is where one not only leaves their inhibitions at the door, but their beloved film.
This is not the film and after what I saw last night, nor should it be! When director Alex Timbers turned the film into a musical, he gave the audience a rare opportunity: to watch their beloved Moulin Rouge! for the first time once again. Moulin Rouge! The Musical cherry picked the handful of moments they knew made the show the icon that it is, songs like the aforementioned Come What May and El Tango De Roxanne remain in as well as interactions between cast members that I won't spoil but you can guess. Other than that it's a brand new show. Gone are moments that you swore you needed and replaced with new shiny and dazzling sequences that make you forget everything you thought you knew about this love story. Last night left me spellbound, dancing in the dreamlike haze of the Bohemian Revolution.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical is playing now at the Piccadilly Theatre! For tickets and more information visit www.moulinrougemusical.co.uk
Until next time,