Few new musicals get rave reviews from The New York Times during their pre-Broadway runs, when they're still working out their kinks. But Moulin Rouge!, based on the 2001 movie of the same name, accomplished just that: The Times called the show's out-of-town tryout in Boston last year a "smart, shameless, and extravagantly entertaining production." And now the show is dancing its way over to Broadway, beginning previews tonight and officially opening July 25.
What makes Moulin Rouge! spectacular? Is it director Alex Timbers' outside-the-box vision? Is it the remarkable performances by leads Aaron Tveit and Karen Olivo? Or is it Sonya Tayeh's beautiful yet dark choreography? According to ensemble member and Broadway vet Morgan Marcell, the answer is all of the above.
"I'm getting to work with people that I've been wanting to work with for a long time," Marcell says. Tayeh recruited some of Broadway's most impressive dance talents—including Paloma Garcia-Lee, Bahiyah Hibah, and Max Clayton—to bring her choreo to life, and pushed them in unexpected ways. "The choreography is a story-driven version of the feats you've seen Sonya create for things like 'So You Think You Can Dance,' " Marcell says. "She's using her edgy vibe to serve the grittiness of the story."
A modern-day jukebox musical, the production features songs from Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and more. (Marcell is especially excited for NYC audiences to hear the early-2000s throwbacks at the top of the second act.) "I think it's going to be cool for all generations," Marcell says, "because there are fun pop songs, there's a choreographer who has made work for big TV audiences, and there's a story that's about the heights that love can take you to. You're going to get your money's worth."
A version of this story appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Moulin Rouge! The Musical Can-Can-Cans Its Way to Broadway."