Moulin Rouge! musical offers amusing mash-ups with sexiness

The song choice has been expanded (now including Lorde, Adele and The Rolling Stones) and the singing and choreography are improved. As for Justin Townsend’s lighting – well, that sometimes borders on the mind-blowing.

Alinta Chidzey lends Satine all the glamour she needs to justify half the cast being in love with her.Credit:

The show also intensifies Luhrmann’s strange melange of elements, whereby self-conscious artiness slid into bed beside melodrama, comedy, dance extravaganzas and music videos.

The switch can now also be flicked to unexpectedly heartfelt moments (reaching beyond love to fading youth) and (much more than in the film) to soft-core erotica.

In fact it’s convenient that Moulin Rouge! and Mary Poppins should be playing in town at the same time. Both feature fabulous designs and improve upon their filmic iterations, but whereas Mary Poppins will hold its greatest appeal for the pre-puberty set, the sexiness of Moulin Rouge! will tempt an older crowd.

While this production is a revamp of the Broadway show, its ties to Australia run deep. Not only did Luhrmann make the film in Sydney, but the production company that helped hatch the Broadway show, Global Creatures, is Australian.

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Now it’s peopled with locals, too: Alinta Chidzey lends Satine all the glamour she needs to justify half the cast being in love with her, and Des Flanagan plays Christian (the only one whose passion is reciprocated) well enough, although some notes at the top of his range have an unruly timbre.

Standing out as both an actor and a presence on the stage is the indefatigable Simon Burke as Harold Zidler, the club owner.

Andrew Cook is suitably wicked and lustful as the Duke, and Tim Omaji’s Toulouse-Lautrec lends a sense of the primacy of art in a world otherwise populated by whores, pimps, thieves, charlatans, grotesques and theatricals.

Ryan Gonzalez is an especially convincing Santiago, and Samantha Dodemaide is even better as Nini, with their tango sequence easily being the highlight of Sonya Tayeh’s exceptional choreography.

So many of the design elements are noteworthy, but especially redolent is the pink “L’Amour” sign harking back to Catherine Martin’s set for Luhrmann’s Opera Australia production of La Boheme 32 years ago. The cultural wheel doesn’t just keep turning, it spins and fizzes like a Catherine wheel.

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