Moolah-la: They’re sure spending a lot of money on “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”
The stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s vertigo-inducing movie musical is budgeted at $30 million — and that doesn’t include the lavish party the producers threw for Sunday night’s opening night in Boston.
The Champagne flowed before the show debuted as an Acela-load of Broadway power brokers marveled at the magnificently restored Emerson Colonial Theatre across from Boston Common.
Tommy Tune towered above the crowd, clad in black tie, white gloves and a red “Moulin Rouge!” sash. Tune has a long history with the theater. He engineered the stunning turnaround of “My One and Only” at the Colonial in 1983, transforming a dog of a show into a Tony-winning sensation. Tune was so moved to be back there, he told friends he’s thinking of directing and choreographing a revival of “Grand Hotel.”
For now, the Colonial has a winner in “Moulin Rouge!,” with a world premiere people were calling “sensational,” “thrilling” and “powerful.”
Directed by Alex Timbers and designed by Derek McLane, the show stars Aaron Tveit as a struggling composer in Paris who falls in love with a cabaret performer, played by Karen Olivo, and six-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein is the cabaret’s host.
John Logan (“Red”) wrote the script, and the score is bursting with songs by Lady Gaga, Sam Smith and others. The standout numbers from the 2001 movie, including “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” and “Minnie the Moocher,” are there as well.
McLane’s sets spill off the stage to engulf the entire theater, which has been painted a deep, luxuriant red. The audience gasped in delight at Catherine Zuber’s costumes, one more extravagant than the next.
Zuber’s last stint at the Colonial was not a happy one. She was fired from “Seussical the Musical” there in 2000, the first of many heads that rolled in Whoville on that $10 million flop.
Her return to the Colonial with “Moulin Rouge!” is, by all accounts, a triumph.
Critics, including some heavy hitters from New York, are seeing the show this weekend, so look for their reviews on Monday.
The only carping I picked up is that the show’s high-voltage energy becomes a bit mind-numbing by the second act.
“There is no let-up,” a source says. “It’s spectacular and it’s gorgeous, but it’s a bit relentless. They have to find some moments for it to breathe. But there’s no question it has the makings of a big, big hit.”
Global Creatures, an Australian company that made millions producing dinosaur shows, is backing the show. It’s also opening the $40 million “King Kong” on Broadway this fall.
The company has yet to announce “Moulin Rouge!” for Broadway, but sources say it will arrive here in the summer of 2019, possibly at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, now home to “Kinky Boots.”
But if you happen to catch “Moulin Rouge!” in Boston, where it runs only until Aug. 19, make sure to slip into the ladies lounge and get a look at the marble table.
The chips in it were made by Bob Fosse when he was tapping out numbers on top of it during the 1978 out-of-town tryout for “Dancin’.”
You can hear Michael Riedel weekdays on “Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning” on WOR radio 710.
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