Emerson Colonial Theatre can, can, can at ‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ reopening gala performance

BOSTON, 7/29/2018 -  From Left, Danny Burstein, Karen Olivio, and Aaron Tveit at the MFA following a Gala performance of Moulin Rouge celebrating the reopening of the Emerson Colonial Theatre Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe (Lifestyle, fNames Kilgannon)
Danny Burstein, Karen Olivo, and Aaron Tveit at the MFA following a gala performance of 'Moulin Rouge! The Musical' celebrating the reopening of the Emerson Colonial Theatre on July 29, 2018. –Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Stars and drama devotees welcomed the newly restored Emerson Colonial Theatre back to the Boston theater scene Sunday with a glitzy red carpet fitting of the night’s performance: “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.’’ The show brings to the stage Baz Luhrmann’s contemporary music-filled 2001 movie about the infamous Parisian dance hall starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.

Actress Eliza Dushku, Olympic figure skating silver medalist Nancy Kerrigan, and New Kids on the Block member Jonathan Knight were among the local celebrities invited to the performance.

Once the curtain lowered, buses whisked guests to a “creative black tie’’ after-party at the Museum of Fine Arts, where servers zoomed around absinthe-colored cocktails reminiscent of the “Green Fairy’’ in “Moulin Rouge.’’


Cast members joined the packed fete after changing out of layers of stage makeup and costumes. In the case of lead actress Karen Olivo, who plays the Moulin Rouge’s star performer, Satine, that meant swapping her corset for a tiered, red lace gown.

Nancy Kerrigan stands for a photo at the Emerson Colonial Theatre celebration. —Erin Clark / The Boston Globe

“I think that [“Moulin Rouge’’ is] one of those movies that was always meant for the stage because it’s really vibrant and dramatic and it’s about a famed theater, so it just made sense,’’ she said. “And it’s a period piece that brings modern music into its story.’’

Actor Aaron Tveit, who stars as Christian, an aspiring composer taken with Olivo’s character, was one of the first to arrive at the MFA — perhaps because his costume does not include a corset. (“[I’m] very happy that I don’t have to wear a corset — the corset is killing everyone!’’ he said.)

“It’s an incredible story of love, hope, and freedom,’’ Tveit told the Globe after posing for photos in a classic black tuxedo and bow tie. “And I think that’s something that’s incredibly needed in our world now, and it’s even more relevant now than when the film came out.’’

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