Long before the scheduled curtain time at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, cast members of Moulin Rouge! have already appeared onstage, bathed in the red light that surrounds and illuminates Derek McLane's set. And it is on this breathtakingly elaborate ruby red set that the incredible spectacular of Moulin Rouge! unfolds.
A jukebox musical featuring about seventy songs, Moulin Rouge! is not your typical show. The screen to stage adaption stays true to the spirit created in Baz Luhrmann's 2001 movie, while amping up the theatricality to fill the theater. From the elephant and windmill that grace the boxes on either side of the stage, you can't help from letting out a gasp when you enter the theater. And that feeling won't leave you when the show starts.
Having seen the pre-Broadway tryout in Boston, I came into the show knowing what I could expect. The glitz, the glamour, and the cast that I loved from the run at Boston's Colonial Theatre remained intact, while the show itself became tighter and more cohesive. The balance between being a visual and auditory spectacle remains perfect, and the story continues to engage the audience on a level that is unlike anything else.
With such a large catalog of pop songs that run the gamut, it is inevitable that the audience will react with cheers or gasps when a number begins. And while it may give off the feeling of being at a concert rather than a show, it doesn't detract from what is happening too much, instead heightening the feeling of excitement that emerges from every single seat in the auditorium.