Did Moulin Rouge! The Musical Deserve Best Musical Tony Award?

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The Guardian

Moulin Rouge! The Musical: the most recent recipient of the Best Musical Tony Award, as well as nine other awards, during the 2020 Tony’s. I was excited to see the show since it had amazing reviews, but I was skeptical to see if the steep price of $228 per ticket was really worth it?

Lily Eagen, Freelancer

Moulin Rouge! The Musical: the most recent recipient of the Best Musical Tony Award, as well as nine other awards, during the 2020 Tony’s. This caused the prices of the tickets to skyrocket to an average of $228 per seat. Fortunately, I bought tickets before the Tony Awards ceremony, so I was able to see the musical at a fairly decent price. I was excited to see the show since it had amazing reviews, and the obvious fact that it won the Best Musical award, but I was skeptical to see if the steep price of $228 per ticket was really worth it?

Overview

The musical Moulin Rouge! takes place at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, France in 1899. It is about a young American songwriter and performer, Christian (Aaron Tveit), who comes to Paris in search of love and freedom. When he gets to the city, he meets two “bohemians,” Toulouse-Lautrec (Sahr Nguajah) and Santiago (Ricky Rojas), who desperately need his help writing music for their show of which they want to perform on the stage that they love: the Moulin Rouge. Toulouse and Santiago want Christian to perform a song for Satine (Natalie Mendoza), the “diamond” of the Moulin Rouge, so that they can get their show on the road. 

While singing Satine the song, Christian falls in love with her, even though she is already promised to the extremely rich Duke (Tam Mutu) to keep the Moulin Rouge afloat. To hide Christian and Satine’s love affair, they must put on a show (that is, ironically, just like their own lives) for the Duke at the Moulin Rouge. The show must earn enough money to keep them in business. Filled with twists and turns, Moulin Rouge! The Musical is definitely a must-see for any Broadway fanatic. 

The Playbill of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. (Playbill)

Positives About the Show

In my opinion, there are four main components that make a great musical: the quality of its dancing, singing, costumes, and set design. Any other issues with the show can be overlooked if all four of these things are spectacular, like in Moulin Rouge! The dancing was absolutely amazing, the group numbers left me with sore hands because I was clapping so hard. Sonya Tayeh really is a genius choreographer, and this show wonderfully showcases her talent. 

In regards to singing, Aaron Tveit and Natalie Mendoza (Christian and Satine, respectively) have the most beautiful voices, and you could feel their emotions during the songs that they sang, both together and apart. The rest of the cast also pulled their musical weight quite well, but these two actors specifically stood out to me.

The costumes were another amazing part of the show. Satine’s dress in the song “Diamond” made the entire crowd gasp. In my opinion, costume designer Catherine Zuber certainly deserved the Tony Award that she won for this show. The costumes might not have been the most historically accurate, but they were incredible nonetheless. 

And finally, the set design of Moulin Rouge was incredible. Even before the show started, I could tell that it was going to be breathtaking. There was a giant, light-up, mini windmill on the left side of the theater and an elephant on the right, built just for this show. Additionally, there were more sets than I could count; I have absolutely no idea where they store all of them. 

I can definitely see why Moulin Rouge! won a Tony for its set, sound, and lighting. In total, Moulin Rouge! The Musical won 10 Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Aaron Tveit as Christian), Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (Danny Burnstein as Harold), Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Best Sound Design of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Choreography, and Best Orchestrations. 

This colossal amount of awards is only two away from the record that is held by The Producers (2001), which won 12 Tony Awards. Overall, there are a massive amount of positives about this musical, but what about the negatives?

Negatives of the Show

Even though there were many positives, there were also negatives as well. This show is supposed to be a love story between Christian and Satine, and even though the actors who played these parts were amazing, there was little to no chemistry between them. They did a better job acting in the play during the musical than they did during the actual musical. 

Additionally, the plot of the show is very cliché. It’s like every other “forbidden love in the past” story that’s out there. Yes, the dancing and singing are amazing, but the plot and the chemistry was sub-par — they did not live up to the other aspects of the show. 

So, Should it Have Won the Tony Award?

The simple answer to this question is: yes. Yes it should. Even though the plot and chemistry were completely off, the show was still remarkable to watch. The dancing, singing, sets, and costumes were incredible, and the show was very upbeat yet sad at the same time. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Moulin Rouge! The Musical, and it did deserve all 10 Tony Awards that it won. I still don’t believe, however, that it’s worth that gargantuan $228 per seat.