Moulin Rouge goes from film to stage

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

When Baz Luhrmann’s musical fantasia Moulin Rouge! hit the big screen, the film wowed and divided audiences equally. Some loved the visual style, frenetic pacing and the anachronistic use of popular music in the 1899 setting. A lot of people absolutely could not get past that use of pop music in an era in which it did not belong. But the movie was ultimately a hit with critics (Rotten Tomatoes score 76%) and audiences (89%) and went on to be nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and winning two for Art Direction and Costume Design. The film was also nominated for six Golden Globes and won the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy award.

For a film that was as theatricl as Moulin Rouge!, it seemed only natural that it would eventually find its way to the stage (as many films do these days), and now theatrical production company Global Creatures has announced they will mount a stage musical adaptation of the film with a book by Tony Award winner John Logan and Tony Award nominee Alex Timbers, with the full title Moulin Rouge! The Musical.

Logan won the Tony Award — as well as the Drama Desk, Outer Critic Circle and Drama League awards — for his 2010 play Red. Logan also wrote the libretto for Sting’s The Last Ship and the script for Bette Midler’s one-woman show I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers. Logan’s name is also well known to TV and movie audiences. Logan created the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, and wrote screenplays for Gladiator, Star Trek: Nemesis, The Last Samurai, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Hugo, Skyfall and Spectre. He also did re-writes on the upcoming Alien: Covenant and is rumored to be writing the new Bond script.

Timbers has had an eclectic stage career with credits that include Rocky (director), Jersey Boys (second assistant director), Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (writer/director), The Pee-Wee Herman Show, Peter and the Starcatcher (director, Tony nominee), and the upcoming Oh, Hello on Broadway (director). Timbers is also a writer and co-executive producer on the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle.

The Moulin Rouge! project was announce simultaneously in New York and Australia (Luhrmann’s home turf), but the opening city, venue and production timeline will be announced at a later date. Additionally, no casting has been announced, and it’s not known if the show will include the pop music used in the film or have an original score.

Luhrmann said in a statement: “I first encountered Alex Timbers through the remarkable and inventive production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and the brilliance of Here Lies Love. I immediately recognized the young director’s creative spirit and felt we shared similar sensibilities and instincts. So I’m tremendously happy to celebrate that Moulin Rouge! will be under his direction and that the book will be the creation of the gifted Tony Award-winning playwright John Logan whose writing I also admire deeply. It’s immensely gratifying to know that a new wave of artists will be leading into its rightful theatrical realm.”

In addition to Moulin Rouge!, Global Creatures is also working on bringing King Kong to the stage.


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