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REVIEW: Falling in Love at the Moulin Rouge (Orpheum/HTT)

The cast of the North American Tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Welcome to the Moulin Rouge. Moulin Rouge! The Musical, that is – now playing at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. This award-winning production is jam-packed with amazing talent, beautiful music, and stunning choreography. From glittering costumes and high energy ensemble numbers to heart wrenching emotional moments, this show has it all. I was engaged from start to finish and would see it again in a heartbeat.

Based on the Oscar-winning movie of the same name, Moulin Rouge does a fantastic job at adapting the story for the stage and contemporary audiences. While not an exact copy of the film, this jukebox musical (book by John Logan) hits many of the same beats. It also updates the soundtrack, with musical theatre versions of many more recent hits alongside the older ones used in the film’s iconic production numbers. These popular and recognizable songs means the audience does not need to try as hard to understand the lyrics and parse out what is happening in the plot. This creates and easy entrance into the show and the audience audibly engaged with the show in ways not often heard in the theatre, especially in Minnesota. Whoops, claps, and hollers were not uncommon as easily recognizable songs began, and when they finished, the audience exploded with cheers.


The famous “Tango de Roxanne – a visceral adaptation” of the classic “Roxanne” song by The Police – makes an appearance. Pictured: Gabe MartÍnez as Santiago and Libby Lloyd as Nini. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

This engaging score is performed by a cast of incredibly talented cast members. The chorus, the featured roles, and the leads were all top notch in their singing, dancing, and acting. Courtney Reed (who originated the role of Princess Jasmine in the Broadway production of Aladdin) shined just as bright as the Sparkling Diamond: Satine. Austin Durant played the perfect host as Harold Zidler, breaking the fourth wall to directly engage with the audience. André Ward brings a powerful pride to the role of Toulouse-Lautrec, strongly delivering lines that elicited shouts of support from the audience.

Amongst all this talent, the brightest star was Conor Ryan in the role of Christian. Conor Ryan had some big shoes to fill stepping into a role that was first performed on film by Ewan McGregor and on Broadway by Aaron Tveit. Boy, did he step up to the challenge! Ryan performed the role of Christian perfectly, his raw emotion and vocal prowess leaving the audience in awe.

Courtney Reed as Satine in one of the many stirring, fantastic production numbers. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

If the familiar music and stellar cast wasn’t enough, the pure spectacle of the show is the cherry on top. Lights, sound effects, glitter, can-can dancers, and confetti make this show a treat for the senses. A quick confession on my part: I generally do not enjoy musicals with lots of spectacle. Usually, this spectacle comes at a cost, causing the show to lose its honesty and heart. Often, it leads to shallow acting and surface-level characters. This is absolutely not the case in Moulin Rouge! The Musical. I believe this is because the characters themselves are living in and creating spectacle. As a result, the characters are able to lift the curtain and show us their true feelings then easily switch back to glitz and glamour.

If reading about a famous night club makes you want a drink, you’re in luck: drinks are now once again in the Orpheum’s the theatre space. Other COVID-19 precautions have also been lifted, and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test are no longer required. Masks are also not required, though highly recommended. (Updated Covid protocols.)

Conor Ryan (right) plays the fledgling poet Christian, who falls in love with the cabaret performer Satine (Courtney Reed) after moving to Paris in Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical plays at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis through June 5th. Ticket are priced $50-$149 with a few Student Rush performances available.

Boo Segersin