Broadway in Cincinnati’s “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” An Effervescent Visual Feast

Review by Nathan Top

In the 1980s, frozen yogurt became hugely popular. A customer could self-serve frozen yogurt into a cup, dump a huge variety of different toppings onto said yogurt, and then pay by-the-pound for whatever fruity, sugary conglomeration was made in the process. Moulin Rouge! is the musical equivalent–an excessive and joyful celebration of “Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love” with every song you have probably ever fallen in love with on the radio.

The Plot of Moulin Rouge!

Based on the 2001 film of the same name, Moulin Rouge! The Musical tells the story Christian, a young American composer who, during a visit to Montmartre in Paris, falls in love with Satine, the star of the cabaret club, The Moulin Rouge. As contractual commitments and relentless suitors come between the two star-crossed lovers, Christian and Satine are forced to decide if forces of life and circumstance are greater than their love for each other. With a book by John Logan and score comprised of the biggest hits from the last century, Moulin Rouge! is a fast, fun, bittersweet blockbuster of a show and winner of 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. 

Director Alex Timbers has created a clean and enthralling production, making the most of every show-stopping number in the jam-packed (occasionally excessive) score. The tone is set before the show begins, as the audience is transported to a nightclub in Paris, possibly the most intimate detail of the evening. 


John Cardoza as the earnest Christian is vocally on point and has palpable chemistry with the beautiful yet seemingly-aloof Satine, played by the vocal powerhouse Courtney Reed. Austin Durant is warm and inviting as the audience’s guide to the world as Harold Zidler, Nick Rashad Burroghs and Gabe Martinez display appropriate comedic timing in their roles as Touluse-Lautrec and Santiago respectively. Andrew Brewer as the antagonist Duke of Monroth has incredible stage presence, stealing the show with his first act medley “Sympathy for the Devil”/“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”/“Gimme Shelter.” 

The cast is inexhaustible, running this marathon of a show. Choreographed by the inspired Sonya Tayeh, the show is as athletic as it is vocally and visually stunning. 

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

The Production Team

The first act flies by with six gleeful medleys of pop songs, usually with an unironic theme tying the songs together (dancing, diamonds, love). Combined with Justin Townsend’s lighting design, Derek McLane’s immersive set, and Peter Hylenski’s sound design, the show often feels more like a concert than a musical. The story arcs in the second act, showcasing the vocal acrobatics of the stars with solo numbers and ballads, which are incredible to behold if not a tad indulgent. 

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

Costume designer Catherine Zuber has created an impressive lineup of 1899 period costumes, including several stunning dresses for the leading lady Satine. 

Get Your Tickets to Moulin Rouge

To quote Mae West, “too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” Broadway in Cincinnati’s Moulin Rouge! is extravagant in every aspect and a true delight to behold. Running now through June 4th, tickets can be purchased here.