The Moulin Rouge has a new leading lady.
Natalie Mendoza will join the Broadway company of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” replacing Karen Olivo in the role of Satine when the Tony-nominated hit musical resumes performances on Friday, Sept. 24. Olivo quit the production in April to protest the lack of response among the theatrical community to allegations that superstar producer Scott Rudin had verbally and physically abused his staff. Rudin is not a producer on “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” but he was intimately involved in other top Broadway shows, such as “To Kill a Mockingbird,” before exiting the productions in the wake of the scandal.
In Mendoza, the Broadway show has enlisted an actress intimately familiar with the titular nightclub. She appeared in the Baz Luhrmann film that inspired the show as “China Doll,” one of the club’s featured can-can dancers.
“We’re excited to welcome Natalie to our company,” the show’s director Alex Timbers said in a statement. “She’s an extraordinary artist and I’m so thrilled to be working with her again as we prepare to bring Moulin Rouge! The Musical back to Broadway.”
Mendoza and Timbers previously collaborated on “Here Lies Love,” which was performed at London’s Royal National Theatre in 2014. Satine is a crucible of a role, calling on an actress to perform power ballad after power ballad, and to put her own spin on classics such as “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Material Girl,” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
“Having been involved with the film from its early conception, the role of Satine has always been close to my heart,” Mendoza said. “This rare jewel of an opportunity to play a character like her on Broadway feels like a full circle moment. With this stunning group of bohemian artists and this uniquely conscious creative team I couldn’t be in better care.”
In addition to Mendoza, Tony Award nominee Aaron Tveit will return when performances resume as Satine’s love interest Christian, as will Tony Award nominee Danny Burstein, who portrays the club’s impresario Harold Zidler. The rest of the cast includes Tony and Olivier Award nominee Sahr Ngaujah as Toulouse-Lautrec, Tam Mutu as The Duke of Monroth, Ricky Rojas as Santiago and Tony Award nominee Robyn Hurder as Nini. Ashley Loren is the Satine Alternate. The cast includes Jacqueline B. Arnold, Holly James, Jeigh Madjus, Joe Beauregard, Keely Beirne, Giovanni Bonaventura, Olutayo Bosede, Maya Bowles, Kyle Brown, Sam J. Cahn, Bobby Daye, Mia DeWeese, Karli Dinardo, Tilly Evans-Krueger, Aaron C. Finley, Bahiyah Hibah, Ericka Hunter, Cameron Mitchell Jackson, Tasia Jungbauer, Jose-Luis Lopez Jr., Reed Luplau, Kara Menendez, Kaitlin Mesh, Fred Odgaard, Dylan Paul, Khori Michelle Petinaud, Benjamin Rivera, Julius Anthony Rubio and Brandon Stonestreet.
Mendoza was a series regular in the BBC One drama series “Hotel Babylon,” and starred in the horror thrillers “The Descent” and “The Descent: 2.” She will next be seen in the “Annette” alongside Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. Her West End and Broadway credits include “Miss Saigon,” “Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark,” and “Ghost.”
“From the moment Natalie was cast as China Doll in Moulin Rouge! the film, we knew we had discovered a major young talent,” Luhrmann said. “That young talent has now blossomed into the lead in our Broadway production. I could not be more thrilled that Natalie will be lowered in that glorious swing as Broadway’s Sparkling Diamond.”
Mendoza is repped by Podwall Entertainment, Buchwald, and Jonathan Arun Group.