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Triple Threat: The Talented Trio of 'Moulin Rouge!' On Broadway

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


What to know about Aaron Tveit, Danny Burstein & Karen Olivo

The eagerly awaited Broadway musical adaptation of the Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film hit Moulin Rouge! has arrived in glorious style. The opulent new piece comes complete with a working red windmill, a giant ornate elephant, and, in general, a scenic design by Derek McLane that appears to be dripping with red velvet and flashing lights. It is an immersive experience, one that invites audiences into the legendary Moulin Rouge itself. The musical, directed by Alex Timbers and choreographed by Sonya Tayeh boasts over 70 songs (albeit, some are in fragments) making it the jukebox musical of jukebox musicals, augmenting the already melodically packed film score with additional numbers like “Single Ladies” and “Firework.”

Aaron Tveit, Danny Burstein and Karen Olivo star in ‘Moulin Rouge!’ (Photos: Matthew Murphy)

Aaron Tveit, Danny Burstein and Karen Olivo star in ‘Moulin Rouge!’ (Photos: Matthew Murphy)

Making the trip to Broadway’s Al Hirschfeld all the more enticing is the trio of powerhouse stars leading a dynamite cast in Moulin Rouge!: Broadway veteran Danny Burstein, Tony-winning triple threat Karen Olivo, and one of Broadway’s most talented heartthrobs, Aaron Tveit. Each has had an exciting career in Broadway musicals, so let’s take a closer look at this trifecta of talent and the careers that have brought them to the Moulin Rouge! 

For those who like their Broadway leading men to be handsome, talented and exude endless charm, the presence of Aaron Tveit in Moulin Rouge! as the romantic Bohemian poet Christian will be the welcome third name rounding out the show’s trio of leads. Tveit made his first steps on a Broadway stage during the original run of the musical Hairspray, as a replacement Link Larkin in the long-running hit. In 2008, he stepped into the Broadway smash Wicked to play the role of Fiyero. His next Broadway outing would propel his career forward with force. He played Gabe in the critically-acclaimed Next to Normal, a performance that secured Tveit a Clarence Derwent Award for “Most Promising Male Performer.” Catch Me If You Can followed in 2011, with Tveit landing the coveted lead role of “Frank Abagnale, Jr.,” the clever imposter who assumes multiple identities. Of course, film audiences will recognize him from the film adaptation of the musical Les Misérables, in which Tveit played the spirited Enjolras. Aaron has also been seen in his share of TV series, including GracelandBrainDead and The Code.

Danny Burstein, who plays Harold Zidler, our impresario and master of the ceremonies for the evening, has enjoyed a prolific, richly varied career in theater, revealing himself over the years as versatile supporting player and an inspiring leading actor. Burstein made his Broadway debut in 1992 in the play A Little Hotel On the Side, before moving on to play “Yakov” in a revival of The Seagull the same year. Roles in Saint Joan (1993), Three Men on a Horse (1993), and The Flowering Peach (1994) followed. It was, however, playing the role of Paul in the 1995 revival of Company that ignited Burstein’s career as a musical theater mainstay. In 1997, he joined the cast of the Broadway musical Titanic as a replacement, and in 2001 he was a standby for A Class Act. The Drowsy Chaperone (2001) gave Danny a chance to exercise his musical comedy chops. He played Adolpho in the original cast, receiving his first Tony nomination.

Burstein’s next two Broadway musical outings would be in the hands of director Bartlett Sher, playing Luther Billis in Lincoln Center Theatre’s acclaimed 2008 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific (Tony nomination) and the Taxi Driver in the short-lived 2010 Lincoln Center Theatre production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. In 2011, Burstein gave a tour-de-force performance as Buddy Plummer in a revival of Stephen Sondheim classic Follies (Tony nomination), his rendition of “Buddy’s Blues” a theater moment to behold. A revival of the play Golden Boy in 2012 and a revival of the musical Cabaret brought two additional Tony nominations for Burstein. In 2015, Burstein would tackle one of the great musical theatre roles playing Tevye in a revival of Fiddler on the Roof, again leading to (surprise) a Tony nomination. Most recently, Danny served as a replacement Alfred P. Doolittle in the Bartlett Sher/Lincoln Center Theatre revival of My Fair Lady. Burstein is married to Broadway musical star Rebecca Luker.

Karen Olivo, who plays the tragic Satine in Moulin Rouge! possesses an impassioned presence backed by myriad talents. She made her Broadway debut in the original run of the iconic musical Rent, as a swing/understudy and replacement Mimi and Maureen. In 2004, Olivo played Faith as a member of the original cast of the musical Brooklyn. Of course, one or breakout roles of her career was in the 2008 Lin-Manuel Miranda musical In the Heights, in which she originated the role of Vanessa. Olivo wowed audiences with her fiery turn as Anita in the 2009 revival of West Side Story, winning a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress Musical. She also enjoyed a recurring role in the TV series The Good Wife, and was a series regular on the second season of Harry’s Law. In 2013, Karen Olivo announced that she would be taking a break from acting, but that was a small stint from which she has thankfully graduated. Moulin Rouge! marks her triumphant return to the Broadway musical stage.

With this much talent overflowing at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, visitors to the Great White Way are going to want to make haste to Moulin Rouge!

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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