Review: Moulin Rouge!

Sometimes the fun of winning a ticket lottery is where the fun ends. That was, unfortunately, how it went for me and my trip to 1890’s Paris and the Moulin Rouge. I first saw this show last June, and honestly had a much better time then. Surely I haven’t become that jaded in a little over a year, have I?

Maybe it was my awful lottery seat, maybe it was the audience around me that got an audible kick out of every slight reference to the modern world (I get a good Cleveland joke, too, believe me, but this was ridiculous), or how half the audience as a whole laughed every time one of the songs started because “oh, my god, I recognize this!”

Whatever the reason, I found myself more annoyed than anything. Maybe it was the well-known overzealousness of the ushers in their futile attempts to stop people from taking pictures as the actors and actresses start walking on the set before the show officially “begins.” I get it, no taking pictures during a show. This rule is bent in so many theaters, and should be bent here since the performers are not doing anything part of the show. All this strict no-picture policy does is make the ushers out to be assholes, because you can’t enforce that rule with graceful panache. You have to use a flashing strobe flashlight and scream, “NO PHOTOS! PUT YOUR CAMERA AWAY!” I was texting a friend with my phone facing the floor and I was yelled at to stop taking photos, which I had not done. So yeah. Asshole.

This was not on the performers at all; they were all amazing. The singing, dancing, just wonderful. I absolutely love the set and costumes. Show show is dated, even with the “new” music added when it was reworked for Broadway. Maybe it’s time to rework the music again? I always thought that was the plan: Moulin Rouge would see updates every year or so to rotate even newer music in to tell the story in different ways, of course leaving in the cornerstones from the movie.

Alas, it just feels old and uninspired. Any my seat was awful. Probably the second-worse lottery seat I’ve “won,” though it really wasn’t a win at all. More of a consolation prize that I had to pay for. The bad lottery seats should be given away for free, and I’m not kidding. At least you know what you’re getting into if that email arrives and says, “Congrats! You won the ticket lottery and your seats are so bad you don’t have to pay!”

You know the iconic elephant and windmill? Couldn’t see them at all. Ok, maybe a little. I could peek at them. A little.

In all my years of attending shows, I have never left a show early. I made it into Act II, but by third song, I had to leave. I was tired, disappointed, and sad. Maybe I am too jaded to enjoy Moulin Rouge now? 

Or maybe it just isn’t that good of a show.