Entertainment » Music

Moulin Rouge! The Musical - Original Cast Recording

by JC Alvarez
Monday Sep 16, 2019
Moulin Rouge! The Musical - Original Cast Recording

Once upon a time an outing on the Great White Way meant an opportunity to experience something outside of the realm of anything that entertainment had to offer at home or at the local multiplex. Since the capitalization of big screen adaptations to the stage (and vice-versa), name recognition and familiarity has served to fill house seats and keep mid-West tourism enraptured by the often times larger-than-life productions on Broadway whether the show was based on an animated Disney classic, or a classic romantic comedy (e.g., "Pretty Woman").

There's nothing new under the sun, and that might be the most evident in the recent Broadway imagining of Baz Luhrmann's ode to truth, beauty, freedom and love, "Moulin Rouge!" — the film reignited Hollywood's interest in big, splashy musicals. The director's assaultive and exhilarating cinematically charged pop-music concert, drew audiences in with its big name cast, top-40 setlist, and deliberately colorful palette. After that, marketing reinterpretations of "Chicago" and "Dreamgirls" was fair game and led to OscarĀ® nominations galore.

It's no surprise that the film has now come full circle and landed as a staged spectacle that brings the revolution to life. "Moulin Rogue! The Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording)" captures all the Original Broadway Cast in their finest with Karen Olivo and Aaron Tveit leading the way. The setlist composed for the musical features many of the familiar highlights from the movie soundtrack with several additional reinterpretations, songs that have since raced onto the pop vernacular to have merited inclusion into the show's narrative.

A timeless tale, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" is admittedly a jukebox musical with a book by John Logan, based on the 2001 film by Luhrmann. It follows the story of a brilliant young composer named Christian during the Belle Epoque in Paris who meets and falls in love with Satine, a cabaret performer and headliner at the infamous Moulin Rouge. Their tragic love story evolves (just like in the film) through song — contemporary pop songs. The soundtrack opens with the cast on "Welcome to the Moulin Rouge!," which includes a medley of the show stopping "Lady Marmalade."

The opening number prepares the audience for what's to come: A cocktail of greatest hits turned into big Broadway numbers. Among the tracks that will resonate and are especially well-crafted are "Your Song," "So Exciting (The Pitch Song)," and the "Elephant Love Medley," inspired by their versions from the movie. The standout among them is easily Karen Olivo singing her introduction on "The Sparking Diamond." The song also crystalized Nicole Kidman's performance in the movie and made her an instant icon. Olivo is substantially exciting, but the arrangement is hardly a feat.

That's what hits at the heart of this Original Broadway Cast Recording most — these are mostly pop songs and meant to be sung by (sometimes) less capable singers, most of which were blazed into our brains by MTV (remember that network?). Olivo's version of "Firework" is a sultry reimagining of Katy Perry's hit song. This is perhaps one of the most talented group of performers currently on Broadway, and these voices go above and beyond elevating "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" Soundtrack to unimaginable heights.

Some may turn their noses up, but there's no denying how infectious and glorious this sounds, regardless of whether it's all been done before — therein lies some of the majesty of this project. In the familiar, there is opportunity for reinvention. Long live truth, beauty, freedom and love!

"Moulin Rogue! The Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording)"
CD and Digital Download
MRB Musical and RCA Records

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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