Moulin Rouge! The Musical: On stage at PPAC through December 31

The cast of the North American Tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical, photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Okee dokee folks… Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a bawdy, flashy, and energetic jukebox musical love story set in 1899 Paris but utilizes over 70 modern pop songs to propel the story. The musical is based on the 2001 film of the same name. Many, more contemporary tunes by artists like Lady Gaga, Lordes, Sia, Florence and The Machine, Katy Perry, Walk The Moon, and others have been added to the soundtrack for the stage version.

The story is simple: Boy (Christian played by Christian Douglas) meets girl (Satine played by Gabrielle McClinton). Girl dances at club (Moulin Rouge) and the club is in danger of closing. However, evil rich man (Duke of Monroth played by Andrew Brewer) will save the club if he can possess the girl but the boy loves the girl. Add lots of dancers and a few friends to augment the cast, toss in a couple of little subplots, and voila — you have Moulin Rouge! The Musical. No spoilers, to learn more, you’ll have to see the show.  


The Providence Performing Arts Center was bathed in a red glow from the large, stage-width neon that spelled out MOULIN ROUGE. A cadre of tuxedo-ed men and scantily clad women strutted, posed, and stretched around the illuminated letters attempting to turn the waiting audience into voyeurs.

The lights dimmed and from the pit pounding bass notes played. The band kicked in and a quartet of courtesans seductively sang “Lady Marmalade.” Then like a radio dial spun from station to station, “Lady Marmalade” morphed into “Because We Can,” a little “hidey-hidey-ho” from “Minnie The Moocher,” “So Fresh So Clean,” The Beatles “Money (That’s What I Want),” “Burnin’ Down The House,” “Let’s Dance,” and a few more and back again. And that was just the first number! The sight and sound razzle-dazzle continued for all of Act 1. This portion of the performance wrapped with a duet of a dozen and a half love song snippets sung by Christian and Satine called, “Elephant Love Medley.” The Elephant is the name of Satine’s dressing room.

Act 2 began with “Backstage Romance,” a provocative song mix and dance number from Christian’s friend, Santiago, and dancer, Nini (Sarah Bowden). (Nini is very bendy!) This half conforms a bit more to a traditional musical and most of the actual story takes place during this part. One of the best “mash-ups” of the show is sung by Satine and Christian and blends Adele’s “Rollin’ In The Deep” with “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley. The night could have easily ended on a bit of a downer but the last ten minutes brought it all back to life with more flashy singing and dancing that had the audience on their feet singing along. 

The whole show was like a mix from an ADD DJ, but it was amazing. From the start, the visuals were sexy and dazzling. Bright lights, impressionist inspired, alluring costumes, and lots of skin to keep your attention focused on the production. The song switching will have your mind playing “Name That Tune” and by the time you figure it out, they’ll have moved on to the next! Of course the famous “Can-Can” dance with lifted and twirled skirts with kicks is included. Oh, and there’s confetti!

The performers who filled the roles of Christian and Satine were stellar. One of the more interesting roles was that of Harold Zilder (Robert Petkoff) who was the club emcee or ringmaster of sorts. Impressionist artist Toulouse Lautrec has a fictionalized presence, though he did have dealings with the original venue. This show is heavily ensemble driven. 

All in all, it’s two and a half hours of wild fun that gives you the feel of an historic Parisian landmark with a modern twist. 

Moulin Rouge! The Musical now onstage at PPAC through December 31. For more, gitchie, gitchie, ya-ya, visit

That’s it for now. Don’t forget you can listen to my podcasts at: On my latest episode I spoke with Justin Levine who won a Tony Award for his part in Moulin Rouge. You can also find my concert photographs at Thanks for reading and listening.