You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Listen: The Special Sauce in Broadway’s ‘Moulin Rouge!’

There are songs in the new Broadway version of “Moulin Rouge!” that weren’t in Baz Luhrmann’s hit movie — but you probably know them anyway. They’re popular tunes by superstars like Beyoncé, Adele and Rihanna, released after the 2001 movie came out, and they’ll probably unleash a flood of memories and associations in every audience member.

Listen to this week’s podcast below:

That’s the unique “special sauce” in “Moulin Rouge!,” according to director Alex Timbers, who appeared on Variety’s Stagecraft podcast with the musical’s book writer, John Logan (“Skyfall,” “Hugo”).

“There are so many musicals where the conceit is that someone is working on the greatest song ever, or the greatest poem or the greatest play ever,” Timbers said. “And then eventually in the second act, they sing that song or they read that poem and you’re like, ‘That’s pretty good.’ But Baz’s crazy conceit is you have not only the greatest pop catalog at [protagonist] Christian the poet’s fingertips, but you have all the deep emotional resonance of, ‘This is the song I fell in love to,’ ‘This is is the song I broke up to.’ Everyone’s relationship to the score is highly personal, and that’s a cool special sauce that I think makes this show really unique.”

Those new additions to the score aren’t the things that are different from the movie that fans know so well. The story, too, has been reimagined for the stage.

Popular on Variety

“The DNA of the piece is very similar,” Logan said. “It’s a heightened, operatic, cheeky, fun, sexy presentation of the story of Christian and Satine and the demimonde of the Moulin Rouge. But I think the particulars of the narrative are very different. We go in a different direction because the stage both demands that we do that, and allows us to do that.”

On the new episode of Variety’s theater podcast, Logan and Timbers also reveal the songs they had to cut, names the songs each of them added to the mix, and explain how “Moulin Rouge!” is like “Taxi Driver.”

New episodes of “Stagecraft” are available biweekly in July, August and September, with a weekly schedule resuming in October. Download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on Apple PodcastsStitcher or anywhere finer podcasts are dispensed. Find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.

More Legit

  • Mrs. Doubtfire BroadwayCon panel

    Listen: 'Mrs. Doubtfire' the Musical, Live From BroadwayCon

    In the Broadway-bound musical version of “Mrs. Doubtfire,” actor Rob McClure has the unenviable job of following in the footsteps of comedy great Robin Williams, who memorably played the title role in the 1993 film on which the stage show is based. Listen to this week’s podcast below: How does McClure hope to fill those [...]

  • Grand Horizons review

    'Grand Horizons': Theater Review

    Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one, as you surely must have: A nice, all-American family is in the process of breaking up and trying to make this sad state of affairs seem funny in Bess Wohl’s Broadway outing “Grand Horizons.” After 50 years of marriage, Nancy (the ever-elegant Jane Alexander) and Bill (the [...]

  • Uncle Vanya review

    'Uncle Vanya': Theater Review

    Director Ian Rickson has had success with Chekhov in the past. His exquisitely balanced, tragicomic production of “The Seagull” (2007 in London, 2008 on Broadway) was well-nigh flawless with, among others, Kristin Scott Thomas as painfully vulnerable as she was startlingly funny. Sadly, with his production of “Uncle Vanya,” despite felicities in the casting, lightning [...]

  • The Welkin review

    'The Welkin': Theater Review

    A life hanging perilously in the balance of charged-up, polarized opinions: This courtroom drama could easily have been titled “Twelve Angry Women.” But playwright Lucy Kirkwood (“Chimerica,” “The Children”) is far too strong and imaginative a writer for so hand-me-down a cliché. Instead she opts for “The Welkin,” an old English term for the vault [...]

  • Tina Fey attends the "Mean Girls"

    Tina Fey Announces Movie Adaptation of Broadway's 'Mean Girls' Musical

    It’s good to be mean…the “Mean Girls” musical, that is. Producers of the hit Broadway show announced today that the Tony-nominated production is being adapted for the big screen for Paramount Pictures. The musical is based on the 2004 movie of the same name. “I’m very excited to bring ‘Mean Girls’ back to the big screen,’ Tina Fey, [...]

  • Freestyle Love Supreme

    Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda and 'Freestyle Love Supreme' in Exclusive Clip From Sundance Documentary

    Before turning “Hamilton” and “In the Heights” into musical phenomenons, Lin-Manuel Miranda could have been found on stage, spouting off-the-cuff rhymes with his improv group, “Freestyle Love Supreme.” After performing across the globe, the troupe — founded 15 years ago by Miranda, his frequent collaborator Thomas Kail and emcee Anthony Veneziale — made its Broadway [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content