“Because you can, can, can!”
It was the phrase that echoed the beautifully curated Emerson Colonial Theatre from the second balcony. When word had gotten around that the prolific Baz Lurhmann film, Moulin Rouge was being adapted for the stage, I stopped what I was doing and whipped out my credit card faster than I’ve done on Black Friday for sales at my local mall.
I’d fallen in a desperately one-sided love affair with the Moulin Rouge since I was 11 years old, owning every song, carefully crafting the words as if I was singing my own Elephant Love Medley. These words – this love – it floated with me throughout the years, whisking me away in the four bohemian truths I vowed to live by: truth, beauty, freedom, and most of all – love.
From the moment I, as my typical over-dressed self, put one stiletto into the theater, I was blown away by its beauty and elegance. The walls dripped gold, illuminated by crystal chandeliers, tall mirrors reflected hoards of people dressed in average clothes – and us, donning Marchesa Notte and dapper suits, carrying glasses of rose´ to the second balcony.
The room glowed red, hot like the steamiest burlesque club in Paris. The set was brilliant, beautifully covered with gold and trimmed in elegance. The whirling front of the Moulin Rouge stood gracefully stoic in the corner, while the setting for the most exquisite love medley commanded attention to my right, with a trunk that reached toward the sky.
Once the show started, I was pleasantly surprised when the songs I’d come to know and love were either updated or swapped out for new renditions. In the first act, Christian and Satine sang a plethora of songs by today’s hottest artists like Lorde, Lady Gaga and Walk the Moon while still paying homage to the traditional “Your Song” by Elton John and “Come What May” that described the tangled love affair of two star-crossed lovers.
Intermission was filled with more glasses of wine, photo opportunities and anxiously awaiting the finale, which was just as bittersweet on stage as it is in the film. In the film, the death of Satine is plagued with melodramatic undertones. On stage, they eliminated that. They ended the performance with song after song, zesty dance numbers, and bubbly Harold Zidler thrusting confetti into the audience. I left feeling on top of the world, now eager to reminisce my night at the Moulin Rouge whenever “Shut Up and Dance” filters through my radio.
The transition from film to stage was an ambitious endeavor that director, Alex Timbers handled brilliantly. He took the basic bohemian elements of the Moulin Rouge and made it their own with some elaborate and fitting adjustments. They upheld the bohemian belief of beauty by implementing cinematic stage sets, glittering costumes and set changes that made your inner romantic soar. The freedom to interpret the essence of the traditional film with an updated, modern twist was accepted from the entire audience. They were true to the characters, making us fall even harder in love for Christian, played by the ever-so-talented Aaron Tveit and the stunning Satine, played by Karen Olivo while hating the Duke – Tam Mutu who played his role villainously and enigmatically.
Most of all, though, was love that exploded through the seats, adorning a classic film brought to life on the most fitting of stages, echoing a notion we already held true within our hearts – love, because “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.”