The original Broadway cast recording for “Moulin Rouge!” was released on Aug. 30, and it has already proven to be the best jukebox musical ever — in my opinion, at least. The film-turned-musical is the first addition to Broadway’s 2019-2020 season and is currently entrancing audiences at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. But is the album as good as the movie?
Just like the movie, the musical begins with a seven-minute introduction song. Danny Burstein’s strong baritone voice is the biggest takeaway from this opening number. Burstein, who portrays Harold Zidler, is the leader of the “Moulin Rouge!” cabaret and one of the most powerful voices in the cast.
While I already knew all of Aaron Tveit’s (Christian) songs would showcase his powerful voice, as shown in “Catch Me If You Can” and “Next to Normal,” I was taken aback by how strong he was in “Truth Freedom Beauty Love.”
One of the new inclusions on this album was a simplified cover of Katy Perry’s “Firework” by Karen Olivo (Satine) from “In the Heights” and “Hamilton.” While I wish that more of the chorus members would be included, the song was great at exemplifying the top of Olivo’s vocal range.
The orchestrations were reduced down to just a guitar and a few string instruments at the beginning of “Your Song.” I don’t understand, however, why Olivo was added into this song: it was supposed to be Tveit’s solo. Sometimes you shouldn’t deviate from the source material.
“So Exciting! (The Pitch Song)” still remains one of the show’s best.
I loved the few changes to “Elephant Love Medley” at the close of Act I; however, I think some of the songs from the movie should have been kept.
I honestly didn’t listen to Olivo’s part in “Come What May,” because I was too entranced with the mellifluous sound of Tveit’s voice and the gentle half-step slides he added to some of the notes.
While Tveit is the definite standout in this show, Burstein also has a great voice and hits lower notes than the rest of the cast. In “Chandelier,” his voice is exemplified as the music goes from the lowest note on this whole album to a G5, which is a note not high enough to shatter glass, but high nonetheless.
Finally, the encore song, aptly titled “More, More, More,” does a great job at not featuring the two main characters but instead allowing Burstein and the ensemble to showcase their voices.
In conclusion, the album of “Moulin Rouge!” proves to be a promising addition to this year’s Broadway season. My only critique is that I wish there were more original songs. However, the musical stayed true to the concept of the original film.