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Tuesday, March 28, 2023 — Houston, TX

Review: Run to ‘Moulin Rouge,’ a sparkling, red-hot spectacular

Photo courtesy Matthew Murphy

By Sara Davidson     2/28/23 11:12pm

Rating: ★★★★½

“Moulin Rouge! The Musical” hit the Hobby Center this week, and it is worth a watch. The show is a jukebox musical featuring many popular and recognizable songs, and is based on the 2001 movie by the same name. I went into the show not knowing what to expect and left wishing that the show could go on for longer. Long story short, I loved it. 

First off, the color and lighting in this show was electric. Honestly, I could write my whole review on how the colors made me feel, but it would be unfair to shadow other great elements. When starting the show, the red lighting is so vibrant that it draws you in from your seat right to the stage. Certain characters are bathed in their own unique color lighting each time they are on stage. Each time a new character enters the scene,  the switching from one color to another is seamless and quickly notifies you of new perspectives and motivations entering the song. Every color is used with a purpose and every spotlight has the ability to follow along with a song, creating the feeling of a pulsing rhythm as the characters are pouring their souls into the show. 

Another amazing technical element was the sets. Both their build and intricate detail as well as the transition from one to another was beautiful. A dressing room could be turned into a night sky in a matter of moments, and characters could walk from the city into the theatre without missing a beat. My one critique of the set was that the fly system, which is what brings curtains or large set items up and down, was not always in sync when bringing two pieces of a set down together. I assume the fly system is run manually by two people, and I wished that they had stayed as in sync as they were when they  brought down the other designs from the sky. The fact that such a minor detail caught my eye speaks volumes to the intricacy and beauty of this set. 

Beyond the lights and set, the actors are what made this show as incredible as it was. They gave their all to the performance, even before it officially started, as they were already out on stage as people were taking their seats, slowly walking around and posing. This added to the air of mystery and excitement for what was to come. The show was not only tech heavy but dance heavy, and this cast delivered. Every dance was performed with just as much energy, if not more, than the dance that came before it, and it was all done without looking like the actors had ever broken a sweat. 

My favorite character in the show was Nini. She was a minor character and backup dancer at the Moulin Rouge, but I feel that she had the most character development and was also fascinating to watch on stage. I wanted to know more about her, know her story, after watching her perform. Satine was not only a gorgeous protagonist, but was also dressed in the most extravagant outfits. In her opening number, she lit up the stage with the way she sparkled. She was a character designed to pull the audience in and naturally watch her, and she did not disappoint. 

Overall, “Moulin Rouge!” was one of the coolest and most enjoyable ways to spend this past Friday night. If you have the time, I would highly recommend going to watch it before the end of its Houston run on March 12. My plus-one, who is in no way a huge fan of musicals, told me at intermission, “This is by far the best show I’ve ever seen,” and held that opinion as we were leaving the show. There seemed to be a lot of people in the audience who agreed with them. The applause were smattering, and the finale had everyone singing along. Go experience this magic for yourself — you won’t regret it. 

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