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Moulin Scrooge! – Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre (NSW)

Written by Trevor Ashley & Phil Scott

Review by Caitlin A. Kearney

Rating: 4 out of 5


World premiere 1st-18th December Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre Tickets: https://www.seymourcentre.com/event/moulin-scrooge/

Production images by John McRae


Trevor Ashley’s highly anticipated, annual adults-only panto is here. House left, the instantly recognisable shape cut by the red windmill has been swapped out for that of Sydney Tower, because this is not “a story about a woman named Satine”, no indeed. This is a tale of the ravishing Satôn (Ashley)- the rough diamond of Kings Cross club Moulin Beige- and the salacious/romantic tug-of-war in which she finds herself. House right, the elephant appears to be slowly but surely deflating, and honestly this fits right in with the rest of the camp, decadent, yet slightly unhinged aesthetic.


The landscape of the old Cross is fast disappearing by way of gentrification, and no-one is safe. By “safe” I mean from caricature. Introduced number by number in keeping with the storytelling style of the source, strapping young bogan Queenslander You-in McGregor (Jarrod Moore) and the disgraced Duke of York (Stephen Madsen) both arrive at the Moulin Beige vying for Satôn’s gloved hand. But the diamond is suffering increasingly from Long Covid and is unable to decide between a life of paid-for tummy tucks on the Gold Coast and one of thrice-daily sex. On that, it’s quite refreshing to see a piece that acknowledges and pokes fun at our current predicament of coexisting with COVID-19 without leaning too heavily on it for material.





The specificity of the send-up is not lost on this particular reviewer. Ashley and Scott have gone in on the official stage show of Moulin Rouge!– the jukebox to end all jukeboxes- with precision surgical enough to tickle even the most religious Luhrmann tragic. At the same time, there is always a sense that the gags have been carefully crafted so as to stand alone and include anyone looking for a night of seriously queer, blue, Aussie entertainment. It’s hard not to feel that one is surrounded by their tribe when Ashley has split the crowd into “boujies” and “bogans” and the joke is consistently on both. And the Hayes Theatre. And Sydney Theatre Company. And Monkeypox. And especially Shane Crawford. Things are kept extra fresh by some of the pop hits being swapped out for other choices, and still others being swapped out for numbers from entirely different musicals.


“Icon” is a descriptor that I happen to think has become overused in recent years, but I’d like to apply it here whilst discussing Carlotta, grande dame of Sydney cabaret. The inclusion of her as Astrid Zeneca- the proprietor of the Moulin Beige- really cements this show as a love letter to the Kings Cross of old (a letter appropriately irreverent at all times, of course). One of the biggest treats of the night came in the form of Carlotta’s version of ”I’m Still Here” from Sondheim’s Follies. Relentlessly funny and resplendent in an ostrich feather headdress and miles of beads and ruffles (from costume designer Angie White), her presence alone was intoxicating and the audience cheered in unison at the end of just about every line.


The thing about musical parody is that it often doesn’t taste as satisfying when the performers are not themselves as skillful as the performances they’re satirising, and that was no issue here. Whilst I would suggest that in general the strongest vocals were on show in each of the solo turns, the inventiveness of the lyrics and the absolute commitment to the bit in the group numbers was more than enough to relax us and keep the laughter flowing freely.


Hilariously- given the title- Moulin Scrooge! staunchly refuses to be a Christmas show in any literal way, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is exactly what everyone wants and deserves at this time of year; an exercise in pure, gloriously bawdy fun.

 

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CAST & CREATIVES

Writers Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott

Director Trevor Ashley

Producer Trevor Ashley

Cast Trevor Ashley, Carlotta, Stephen Madsen, Jakob Ambrose, Jarrod Moore

Choreography Rhys Bobridge

Costumes Angie White

Lighting Design Sam Wylie

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