Ten-time Tony Award-winning musical Moulin Rouge! The Musical will have its first Brisbane performance in the Lyric Theatre at Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) on Tuesday 16 May 2023 when Baz Luhrmann’s revolutionary film comes to life onstage remixed in a musical mash-up extravaganza.
Since lifting its curtain around Australia, the production has welcomed nearly one million Australian theatregoers with sold out seasons in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. The Brisbane season is also on track to be a complete sell out.
“We’re so excited to finally be bringing Moulin Rouge! The Musical to Queensland and we are thrilled at the overwhelming response from Brisbane audiences three-weeks out from our arrival,” said Producer Carmen Pavlovic.
“Our aspiration was to create a show that genuinely surprises audiences – whether you have seen the movie or not. The show is so lavish, so bold and deeply romantic, guests should be prepared for a completely immersive sensory experience.”
“The Australian production team that are integral in bringing our show to life are quite simply some of the best in the world and we can’t wait for Brisbane to experience the spectacular,” said Pavlovic.
Alinta Chidzey stars as the sparkling diamond, Satine, opposite Des Flanagan as bohemian dreamer Christian, with Simon Burke AO playing legendary club impresario Harold Zidler and James Bryers as The Duke.
Montmartre’s resident artistes will be played by Jarrod Draper as Toulouse-Lautrec and Ryan Gonzalez as Santiago. The club’s famed entertainers known as the ‘Lady M’s’ will be played by Samantha Dodemaide as Nini, Olivia Vásquez as Arabia, Chaska Halliday as La Chocolat, and Christopher J Scalzo as Babydoll.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical depicts a show within a show, and that experience starts the moment audiences walk into the theatre. With the auditorium dressed as if entering the original Parisian nightclub, audiences are immediately transported to a world of splendour and romance, of eye-popping excess, and of glitz, grandeur and glory.
Through exquisite set design the production pays homage to the original, iconic Moulin Rouge in Paris which inspired Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 revolutionary film.
Set designer Derek McLane will transform the Lyric Theatre and everything within its walls, with notable additions including custom-built railings covered in gold leaf and carved with windmills and cherubs, gold columns, twinkling festoon lights, heart-shaped panels and endless luxurious red velvet drapery.
There are over 3,500 light bulbs used throughout the set, including 2km of hand-painted red festoon lighting and a further 12 large-scale, unique chandeliers that all have their own character and charm to reflect the bohemian atmosphere club owner Harold Zidler would have created, will be hung in their new home at QPAC.
“Derek McLane’s Tony Award-winning, exquisitely sumptuous scenic design, decadently lit by Justin Townsend’s Tony Award-winning lighting design, is alone worth the ticket price, even before the show begins!” – Broadway World.
The most famous symbol, the red windmill that sits atop the real Parisian nightclub and gives the club its name (‘Moulin Rouge’ means ‘red windmill’ in French), is brought to life for the stage show with a giant replica, which took 20 people in Victoria over two months to create and sits just left of stage, perched in its own box with panels that turn like a real windmill.
Another symbol fans of the film might be familiar with is the equally impressive blue elephant. Made in New York and weighing 220kg, this replica pays homage to the original elephant statue in the garden of the Moulin Rouge nightclub in Paris (in both the film and the musical, character Satine’s dressing room is set inside the elephant).
In the stage show, the replica elephant stands 5.1m tall to the right side of the stage, opposite the windmill, and can be seen from every seat in the theatre. Small renderings of both the elephant and the windmill can be spotted behind the performers during scenes that take place away from the nightclub, so keep an eye out!
Adding to the immersive experience, audiences who arrive early will be asked to put away their phones as performers appear on-stage 15 minutes before the show officially begins. While the choreographed pre-show doesn’t involve dancing and singing, the performers on stage add to the feel of a Parisian nightclub by actively mixing and mingling amongst themselves, and with patrons, as they arrive. Even some of the lead actors can be spotted mingling on-stage during the pre-show, before they make their official appearances!
Finally, the ‘Moulin Rouge’ sign that hangs over the stage when audiences enter the theatre is a genuine neon sign in one large piece, weighing 370kgs. It will take 15 people to move and unbox it when it arrives at QPAC next month for the strictly limited Brisbane season. When the sign rises and the beat drops, audiences know they have officially entered the nightclub and the show is about to start.
As the Sydney Morning Herald aptly wrote, “You don’t just go to see Moulin Rouge! The Musical, you enter its world.”
Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Lyric Theatre – QPAC, Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane)
Season: 16 May – 27 July 2023 (Opening Night: Saturday 20 May)
Following its Brisbane season, Moulin Rouge! The Musical will play a return season at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre from August 2023. For more information, visit: www.moulinrougemusical.com for details.
Image: Moulin Rouge! The Musical (The Lady M’s) – photo by Michelle Grace Hunder