Concert Choir Grooves to the Beat of Moulin Rouge


The LHS concert choir traveled into New York City to see a Broadway musical for the first time since 2019 on Nov. 2. After a year of curtains drawn on empty stages, the Tony-Award winning show Moulin Rouge! The Musical brought all the lights, scenery, and action-packed choreography to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Set in Paris, France, at the turn of the 20th century, the musical portrays a story of “truth, beauty, freedom, and love” ( between the haves and the have-nots of society; meanwhile, a dangerous love triangle among three main characters seeks to destroy the reputation of Moulin Rouge, the 132-year-old Parisian night club that the plot is centered upon. Countless pop songs from the past two decades are peppered throughout the show, aiming to capture the emotion and occasion of every scene.

Chorus teacher Barry Wyner and his choir were thrilled to hear that they were allowed to return to Broadway. To Wyner, it is “really important that kids get this experience of seeing a Broadway show because there’s nothing like it,” he said. 

Sophomore Kerry Cullen said she was “overjoyed” when she heard that the trip was approved by the school district. “It was such a mood brightener to hear we had something like this to look forward to,” she said. Senior Meghan McMahon was also ecstatic when she heard the news. “This was the first time I was going on a school field trip in two years, so I was very excited,” McMahon said.

On the night of the show, choir members met up with Wyner outside of Penn Station and walked to the Playwright Celtic Pub for dinner, conveniently located directly across from the theatre. This was one of senior Lexi Capitali’s favorite moments of the night. “All of us gathering together to eat before the show was so fun,” Capitali said.

 After showing a ticket and proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test to enter the theatre, the stunning red lights that bedecked the Moulin Rouge scenery captivated the students’ attention, even before a line of dialogue was spoken on stage. “I had never seen that many lights inside of a theater at once,” McMahon remarked. 

The show began with a high-intensity musical number showcasing the women of Moulin Rouge that bedazzle their male audiences every night with flashy dance numbers. Satine, played by Natalie Mendoza, is the club’s “Sparkling Diamond.” She effortlessly wows the crowd with her trapeze expertise, gorgeous appearance, and mellifluous singing. Her objective is to keep the Duke of Monroth, played by Tam Mutu, financially interested in Moulin Rouge, which is on the brink of bankruptcy. 

Meanwhile, a soon-to-be American composer named Christian, played by Aaron Tveit, travels to Paris in hopes of becoming famous by writing love songs. He encounters two “bohemians”: Toulouse-Lautrec, played by Sahr Ngaujah; and Santiago, played by Ricky Rojas, whose dream is to put on a play of their own at the Moulin Rouge.

In a serendipitous turn of events, all four characters’ ambitions become realized through an unexpected and improvisational rendezvous in Satine’s dressing room: Moulin Rouge will host a play directed by Toulouse and Santiago, the music will be composed by Christian, Satine will play the female lead, and the Duke will gain managerial and financial control of the whole affair. In addition, Satine promises to remain loyal to the Duke, in a sense becoming his own property; however, as time goes on, a secret affection between Christian and Satine intensifies, which must be kept under wraps to avoid conflict with the Duke, which would mean the end of the Moulin Rouge. After the final curtain was called, confetti filled the entire theatre. 

The following day in chorus class, Wyner encouraged the choir to share comments and critiques about certain elements of the show, including the plot, scenery, lighting, musical numbers, and choreography. Wyner said he was glad that his students had “the special shared experience of watching a show together with friends and peers.” 

Because Moulin Rouge is a “jukebox musical”— a musical that incorporates well-known songs into the repertoire in addition to original pieces — Wyner commented that the musical did a great job of “transforming these pop songs by customizing them to fit the story and situation.” Cullen expressed that the set design “was absolutely perfect for the show; it was beautifully crafted.” Senior Samuel Maselli agreed with most about the stellar set design; however, when it came to the actual story, he “didn’t like it that much” because he felt that the “story has been done before.”

In the past, most of the shows seen by concert choir have had some historical element attached to them, including Miss Saigon, set in the Vietnam War, and Come from Away, taking place during 9/11; however, “this one did not contain any historical value,” Wyner remarked. “Coming off the ‘COVID year,’ I thought it was important to see a show that was bright, colorful, and full of joy and entertainment.” 

This was certainly the case, as the choir came away from Moulin Rouge with high spirits and the knowledge that, as Toulouse so wisely remarked, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”