Global Creatures has begun development to turn Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor’s 2001 hit movie into a new musical.
Hot on the heels of Strictly Ballroom The Musical, it has been announced that Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 hit film Moulin Rouge! is being adapted for the stage by a team of American creatives under the auspices of Melbourne-based production company Global Creatures.
The original, lavish Twentieth Century Fox movie was set in 19th-century Montmartre and starred Ewan McGregor as the starving poet who falls in love with Satine, a doomed courtesan and cabaret artist played by Nicole Kidman. The film also featured a host of Australian actors including Richard Roxburgh, Kylie Minogue, Caroline O’Connor and Richard Wenham. To date, the film has grossed more than $179 million worldwide and was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture, and won two.
The “new” musical will have a book by US playwright John Logan who won the Tony for his 2009 play, Red, about the life of the 20th-century American artist Mark Rothko. As a screenwriter, Logan has worked on successful projects like Skyfall, Spectre, The Aviator and Gladiator. The director brought on board for Moulin Rouge! is also an American – two-time Tony-nominated Alex Timbers, whose Broadway credits include the mainstream Rocky, but also the more radical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (a musical about the controversial American President) and Here Lies Love, David Byrne’s disco-inspired musical about Philippines First Lady Imelda Marcos. He is also co-creator of the popular TV classical music-meets-soap opera, Mozart in the Jungle.
“I first encountered Alex Timbers through the remarkable and inventive production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and the brilliance of Here Lies Love,” said Luhrmann on the announcement. “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 Moulin Rouge! into its rightful theatrical realm.”
At this stage, it’s not clear what role Luhrmann, the film’s original director, producer and co-writer, will play in the new project. However, in the press release, Global Creatures CEO Carmen Pavlovic said, “Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin are so special to Global Creatures and I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to partner with them once again to bring their ground-breaking work to the stage. Moulin Rouge! is a film begging to be theatricalized. I can think of no better creative collaborators than Alex Timbers and John Logan to realise this new musical.”
As a production company, Global Creatures teamed up with Luhrmann’s own company Bazmark a few years back to adapt 1992’s iconic Strictly Ballroom for the stage. The musical opened at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre in 2014 to mostly poor reviews, but has since been “reworked” with a new staging by British director Drew McOnie due to open at the UK’s West Yorkshire Playhouse in November this year.
According to the producers, developmental work on Moulin Rouge! The Musical is currently underway, but no time-line for the show or opening venue has yet been determined.