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Moulin Rouge
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Murphy

Broadway's Moulin Rouge! will resume shows with a major cast change

Actress Natalie Mendoza will take over the leading role of Satine.

Written by
André Wheeler
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The Tony-nominated Moulin Rouge! The Musical is gearing up for its highly anticipated return to Broadway this fall. On Monday, the production revealed that actress Natalie Mendoza has nabbed a lead role in the production’s comeback, replacing Karen Olivo as Satine. 

Satine was originally portrayed by Nicole Kidman, who scored an Oscar nomination for her performance, in the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film the musical is based on. Mendoza enters the world of Moulin Rouge! with some valuable experience: She played China Doll, one of the club’s cancan dancers, in Luhrmann’s film. The Australian-raised actress has also appeared in multiple Broadway and West End productions, including Miss Saigon, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Ghost.

Moulin Rouge
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Murphy

“From the moment Natalie was cast as China Doll in Moulin Rouge! the film, we knew we had discovered a major young talent,” Baz Luhrmann said in the press announcement of Mendoza’s casting. “That young talent has now blossomed into the lead in our Broadway production. I could not be more thrilled that Natalie will be lowered in that glorious swing as Broadway’s Sparkling Diamond.”

“We’re excited to welcome Natalie to our company,” said Alex Timbers, director of Moulin Rouge!: The Musical. “She’s an extraordinary artist and I’m so thrilled to be working with her again as we prepare to bring Moulin Rouge! The Musical back to Broadway.” 

Other popular Broadway shows are expected to return to stage slightly changed. The writers of Book of Mormon recently announced they are removing elements of the modern classic deemed “racially problematic.” The popular Waitress will return with composer Sara Bareilles back in the lead role

Mendoza’s casting comes after the departure of actress Karen Olivo, who played Satine in the show’s 2017 workshop debut, 2018 Boston run and 2019 Broadway premiere. Earlier this year, Olivo announced she would not return to the role once production resumed. 

Olivo posted a five-minute video to Instagram, saying, “I could easily go back to the show and make a lot of money but I still wouldn’t be able to really control what I was putting out into the world, and what I’m seeing in this space, right now, with our industry, is that everybody is scared, and nobody is really doing a lot of the stuff that needs to be done.” The Tony-nominated actress went on to reference recent reported allegations of abuse against the titan Broadway producer Scott Rudin. “The silence about Scott Rudin: unacceptable,” she said. “That should be a no-brainer.”

Moulin Rouge!: The Musical is slated to resume production on September 24. 

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