While it might not be a “hidden” gem, the Moulin Rouge has history, a French cabaret experience, the 2001 movie and the Broadway musical!
Welcome to…. The Moulin Rouge! It is 1889, the era of the Belle Epoque, where strict Victorian rules are in place, multi course dinners and balls are the social life and yet everyone still needs an outlet of entertainment that is a bit less formal. Dare I say “risque”? In this Victorian age, cafes and cabarets in Paris became popular go-to places for the very fashionable. One of the most famous of these Parisian spots even today is the Moulin Rouge.
It was a place where the very rich were allowed to “go slumming” in a fashionable district of Montmartre. Drinking, dining and watching women dance the can-can during which the dancers scandalously showed their ankles and other parts of their anatomy! This might not seem like a big deal today but during the time of its beginnings, it was just indecent for a lady to show any skin but the face and hands. The very French Moulin Rouge has been entertaining celebrities and royalty from all over the world for more than 125 years.
The Moulin Rouge is a place for entertainment, along with the Can Can dancers, they have hosted celebrity guests such as Edith Piaf, Liza Minelli and Frank Sinatra who performed at this iconic cabaret. Over 130 years later, it is still considered a gem, full of colors, feathers and sequins sparkling like diamonds; and each show always ends with the exciting high kicks and jump splits of the famous dance.
Movies about the home of the Can-Can include several 1920’s versions from France, and a beautifully filmed mid century Shirley McClain vehicle of the same name. I will always adore the more recent 2001 Baz Lurman spectacular “Moulin Rouge!” starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. This modern version tells the classic story of the hooker with a heart of gold (which by the way is also based on the story of the opera “La Traviata” which in turn is based on a story by 3 Musketeer’s author, Alexandre Dumas “La Dame aux Camélias”. Whew!) The 2001 movie can be described as a jukebox musical, where the songs included were all chosen for their catchy tunes and romantic reminiscing. One of my favorites, the “Elephant Love Medley” includes a compilation of songs with the word Love in the title. Ewan McGregor trying to win over Nicole Kidman in her dressing room on the top of a giant elephant – a little bit of fantasy and a little bit of history.
In June 2019 the Broadway musical “Moulin Rouge: the Musical” opened, with the story following closely to the 2001 movie but some of the songs have been updated. The songs, the costumes, the sets all transport you right to Paris during the Belle Epoque era! Still the story of a hooker with a heart of gold, and as much as we all wish differently, the ending is still the same. If you don’t know the ending I won’t spoil it here, just go and watch the movie!
And for more information watch this video on Hidden Gems with Grace!