Abby's Inklings: Seeing 'Moulin Rouge' - The Lookout - LCC's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1959
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Abby's Inklings: Seeing 'Moulin Rouge'

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The Lookout Staff Writer Abby Cowels

abby cowels

By Abby Cowels (She/Her)
Staff Writer

“Moulin Rouge! The Musical” came to East Lansing’s Wharton Center on April 7 to put on the glitter and glam story by famously tacky Baz Luhrman.

The story takes place in Paris, where a struggling romantic poet looks for his muse and falls in love with a beautiful cabaret dancer at the Moulin Rouge.

I have never been much of a Luhrman fan, but I can appreciate the spectacle that he makes out of film. You may recognize some of his more recent films like “The Great Gatsby” (2013) or “Elvis” (2022), and his glorification of sex, wealth and all general excessiveness.

I remember the original “Moulin Rouge” (2001), which is currently celebrating its 23rd year. The chemistry between Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman made a very compelling story. I fully expected the same flashy romance from the new musical.

Moulin Rouge

The show opened up, and it was almost like a carnival turned itself inside out on stage. Dancers can-canned, spotlights grazed the audience and confetti fell from the ceiling. It was a sight, trying to take it all in, all while trying to find the story.

The show ended on an explosive note. As we were leaving, I began to collect my thoughts. It took some days of reflecting, trying to organize the disorienting experience. So, I decided that there was only one way to better understand the musical. I needed to refresh my memory, because I must not remember much of the original story.

The further I watched the 2001 film, the more skeptical I became of the play. By the end, I kept asking myself, “why did they change it?” Translating a film into a play is a tricky process – how do you capture all of the elements of set editing, scene changes – how do you fit it to a stage?

They did a marvelous job of creating the same over-the-top display I would expect is paramount to its success; though it appeared to overcompensate for the change of plot and new dialog.

In fact, they removed all dialog, and then replaced it with some 25 pop mashups from the last 20 years. They also changed the main characters’ stories, frankly to be dull and pitiful.

I was happy to be around family and others who came for the nostalgia, it was an extravaganza. I cannot say that I am not disappointed at the changes in plot, but many others loved it. And being a part of that kind of energy is always a captivating experience.



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