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Did the critics find the Moulin Rouge! spectacle spectacular?

The West End premiere is finally (officially) open at the Piccadilly Theatre

The company of Moulin Rouge!
(© Matt Crockett)

Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage


"From the second you enter you know what to expect: a musical with a heart of gold that seeks to entertain and overwhelm in equal measure. It is so over the top, it's irresistible."

"It's taken Moulin Rouge!, a show with a book by John Logan, based on Baz Luhrmann's film, more than two years to get from Broadway to the West End, and even once it arrived, its opening was much delayed by Covid. But now it is here, its sheer razzle-dazzle power makes it a tonic in the dark days of winter."

Jason Pennycooke (Lautrec), Jamie Bogyo (Christian) and Elia Lo Tauro (Santiago)
(© Matt Crockett)

Ava Wong Davies, The Independent


"For those still seeking out a post-lockdown hedonistic high, Moulin Rouge! (based, of course, on Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film) makes a brave attempt at scratching that itch. The film is an alchemical delight – romantic and craven, tawdry and glamorous. Moulin Rouge! The Musical isn't quite as potent, nor does it have that edge of seediness that makes Luhrmann's film so intriguing, instead investing in a level of opulence designed to overstimulate. Designer Derek McLane covers the Piccadilly Theatre's walls in crushed red velvet, a working windmill spins in the royal box, and a main character makes her entrance on a rhinestone-encrusted swing that is lowered from the rafters. It is ostentatious, absurd, and completely ravishing to look at."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph


"The whole experience is awash with sure-footed dance: sensuous, fleet and duly delivering those signature can-can moves in a riot of petticoat lifting and high-kicking. Yet there's little disguising the slender narrative arc – a tale of doomed, albeit finally requited love told in forlorn flashback by a wide-eyed bohemian with a preternatural gift for song-writing."

"The essential creative audacity of turning snippets of songs into conversation and turning chart hits into musical numbers and medleys still works a treat, and emotional layers are excavated in songs smoothed by overkill, such as Adele's "Rolling in the Deep"."

Nick Curtis, Evening Standard


"What a shame. This long-awaited, much-delayed Broadway adaptation of Baz Luhrmann's high-camp 2001 film musical has razzle-dazzle style but precious little substance. The big numbers are ravishing, but the central relationship between Liisi LaFontaine's courtesan Satine and newcomer Jamie Bogyo's writer Christian is consumptively thin."

"Sonya Tayeh's choreography for the group numbers is vigorous and thrilling: the one moment of true raunch and danger is the tango to The Police's "Roxanne", where Elia Lo Tauro's macho Santiago hands Sophie Carmen-Jones's lithe Nini off to a series of punters. And after the limp diminuendo of the ending, the curtain call recapping all the show's highlights is a triumph."

Liisi LaFontainue (Satine)
© Johan Persson

Kate Wyver, The Guardian


"At the end of the 19th century, when our hopeless romantic lead walks through Montmartre for the first time, all he can see is 'dazzling chaos'. That's what this raucous new production of Moulin Rouge! exudes in spades."

"It's never going to be easy, staging Baz Luhrmann's iconic musical movie starring consumption-ridden Nicole Kidman and lovelorn Ewan McGregor. But with a half-tonne sculpture of an elephant leering over the audience, a hefty cast and money to burn, this production gives it a good go. There is a lot to love: with a wonderfully wild energy throughout, it's happily queerer than the film, and the well-known songs really are spectacular."

Clive Davis, The Times


"In Alex Timbers's stage version the trick is to throw even more songs at the audience. I lost track in the end — some of the numbers are reduced to soundbites — but the full list adds up to more than 70, from Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" to Adele's "Rolling in the Deep". Calling this show a mash-up is an understatement: it's more like pouring a few hundredweight of melodies into a cement mixer lorry and adding several tons of rhinestones."

"Jamie Bogyo has lots of charm as Christian, the naive young American who becomes Satine's beau. Clive Carter oozes camp as Harold Zidler, the impresario whose function is similar to that of the Emcee in Cabaret (which has, of course, just opened across town, and works just as hard to make punters feel they are tasting forbidden fruit.) Moulin Rouge! has sumptuous costumes by Catherine Zuber, sword-swallowing damsels and choreography by Sonya Tayeh that comes alive in the big ensemble number just after the interval. But it's less a musical, more a cynically manipulated playlist."

Tim Bano, The Stage


"It's a shell of a show, all noise and no signal, instantly crumbling into its own lack of substance. Somehow it won 10 Tonys (albeit in an awards season when most of Broadway was shut) and now, after several Covid-induced postponements, it explodes into the West End."

"At the heart of the problem is its lack of one. Baz Luhrmann's film has all the same camp, grandiose, jukebox-plundering excess as the stage show, but somehow it convinces us to fall in love with its characters. This stage adaptation doesn't."