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Moulin Rouge!: The Music, The Message and Defining The New Decade

Moulin Rouge!
By Mena Buscetto

The star-studded, Baz Luhrmann-inspired musical, Moulin Rouge! was arguably the most anticipated show to hit Broadway this season. And it did not disappoint. With the cult following from the 2001 hit movie, modernized soundtrack, and Broadway vets Aaron Tveit and Karen Olivo leading the charge, this show was destined for success from the moment of inception.

I had quite the experience attempting to see this show for the first time. I purchased tickets last December to see a preview performance in the summertime. Unluckily and coincidentally for me, the long-awaited evening of that performance also happened to be the night of the New York City blackout. Yep. There I was caught in the middle of thousands of very confused, disappointed Broadway fans dressed up in their best Moulin Rouge-inspired outfits, only to be turned away and forced into the darkness of Times Square. It was extremely depressing. Fortunately, I was able to get tickets for a month later, and let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

The New York Times review encapsulated this spectacle of a show perfectly in one statement:

‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ Offers a Party, and a Playlist, for the Ages.

The moment you walk into the theater, you are catapulted into a new world: the world of the Moulin Rouge. The vibrant set with its reds and golds, paired with the lavish, sparkling decorations and, oh yeah, the giant elephant sticking out of the wall, is transformative. The sultry musical undertones in the background only added to the mood, giving audience members the feeling that they’re about to be in on a secret, and that something special and exciting is about to happen.

Although I’ve begged everyone I know to listen to the soundtrack, I’ll leave out any spoilers here. Let’s just say that in every medley, just when you think you’ve settled in, a new song will be thrown in the mix that’ll surprise you and have you dancing in your seat, wondering what’s coming next.

Hint: The majority of the songs were not written before 2001, and were therefore not in the movie. Get ready for some surprises.

As I have said in past pieces I’ve written, I truly find something positive and enjoyable in every show that I see. ‘Moulin Rouge!’, however, was one of the rare shows that left me speechless at its end. That list is very small and accompanied only by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Ferryman, Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton. While the music, choreography and acting was all certainly spectacular, it was the message of the show that stuck with me the most.

Truth. Beauty. Freedom. Love: the musical’s mantra, and one we should bring with us as we approach a new year in 2020 and a brand new decade.

Truth: In a world where what is true and what isn’t is questioned every single day, we must all make it a point to live our own truth, adhere strongly to our beliefs and do our best to live by them every day, even under challenging circumstances.

Beauty: We must also make the choice to see the beauty in those around us and in our everyday life. Life, as we know, isn’t easy, and it seems to be getting more difficult every day. However, this difficulty does not overpower the beauty that can be found in the simplest moments in life, if only we stop to notice.

Freedom: Freedom is power. We have the power to make choices every day that can change the world around us and make ourselves and others better. Many people make “New Year’s Resolutions.” This year, make one of those resolutions to use your freedom to do something important that makes a positive impact. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a large gesture, but even the smallest positive action can set off a chain of events that leads to something greater and extremely meaningful.

Love: The focal point of ‘Moulin Rouge!’ and what should be a focus for all of us as we transition into the new year. When we hear the word “love,” a lot of us automatically jump to a significant other or romantic partner. While the show certainly focuses on the romantic relationship between Tveit and Olivo’s characters, Christian and Satine, respectively, the show also touches on loving yourself enough to make decisions and doing things that will make you feel happy and fulfilled.

Want to start off 2020 feeling inspired? Go see this show.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll sing, you’ll dance and, most importantly, you’ll think and reflect. (Just be prepared to be listening to the soundtrack every day until 2021).

Also by Mena Buscetto:

Broadway Workshops and Labs: Why We Need Them

For the Theatre Lover: Becoming a “Play” Person

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