'Moulin Rouge!' 'The Musical' Star Aaron Tveit on Getting Baz Luhrmann's 'Blessing' for Broadway Show

The Gossip Girl actor discusses taking over the role of Christian from Ewan McGregor


Moulin Rouge! The Musical star Aaron Tveit describes his role in the Broadway adaptation of the iconic Baz Luhrmann film as nothing short of “spectacular.”

In 2001, Luhrmann’s Oscar-winning movie musical about the bohemian romance of two doomed lovers, played by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, dazzled audiences. 18 years later, the famous red windmill is back and has found a new home on New York City’s Great White Way.

“It’s exciting,” Tveit — who takes on the lead role as Christian, the struggling musician who falls for the alluring Satine — tells PEOPLE of moving the show’s original Boston production to its new home on Broadway. “The Hirschfeld in New York is so intimate. But I like that because even though the show is very presentational, you feel like you can kind of be a little more naturalistic as you would kind of on-camera a little bit.”

Aaron Tveit and Karen Olivo in Moulin Rogue.
Karen Olivo and Aaron Tveit in Moulin Rouge!. Matthew Murphy 2019
Moulin Rogue! The Musical.
Matthew Murphy 2019.

From the moment the audience enters the Al Hirschfeld Theater, viewers are immediately immersed in the world of Moulin Rouge!. From the bright lights of the iconic windmill that loom over the orchestra, to the giant imperial elephant whose trunk falls over the theater balconies, the cabaret musical is not just a show — it’s an experience.

“It’s just wonderful to feel the audience so close —you can tell that they’re right with us and they get everything, hear everything. It’s really great,” the actor says.

Tveit and his leading costar, Tony winner Karen Olivo, who plays Satine, join an ensemble cast of 30 stage talents who bring Luhrmann’s beloved film to life. And keeping with the jukebox theme of the movie, which features famous songs such as “Roxanne” to “Your Song” and “The Sound of Music,” the theater adaption dusts off the film’s 2001 catalogue and updates it with recent hits such as Beyonce‘s “Single Ladies,” Fun’s “We Are Young,” and Lady Gaga‘s “Bad Romance.”

“I really get to sing some incredible incredible music,” Tveit says of his many arrangements, which include several of the movie’s original numbers such as “Come What May” and the “Elephant Love Medley.”

He continues, “Just as a viewer, I’m kind of standing in the wings waiting to enter for our scene and sing ‘Your Song’ while Karen is singing ‘Firework’ (by Katy Perry) and I kind of get to watch and listen to that every day. And that’s just absolutely spectacular.”

But the star’s favorite number in the show? Of course, “Roxanne” which is remixed as a bold medley with Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”

Tveit is used to readjusting himself for different mediums, having memorably starred in Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of Les Misérables and the fan-favorite CW drama Gossip Girl. But the actor admits that he finds stage acting to be the most rewarding due to its more demanding nature.

“Being on stage is definitely the one that’s the hardest because it becomes a marathon of eight shows a week,” he says. “But it’s as rewarding too because, with the other mediums, you don’t have a live audience responding to you. It’s difficult, you have to keep yourself in shape to be able to do eight shows a week, but at the trade-off is you get the audience right in front of you loving the show every night. So it’s really special.”

Moulin Rogue! The Musical.
Matthew Murphy 2019.
Moulin Rogue! The Musical.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Mathew Murphy 2019.

And while Kidman and McGregor have yet to see the stage adaption, Tveit reveals that Luhrmann and his wife, Moulin Rouge! costume designer Catherine Martin, not only gave the show their blessing, but recently attended it with family and friends.

“They’ve been very, very actively involved kind of handing it, protecting it. And they’ve also given a lot of thoughts and ideas, but the biggest thing is they’ve given this production their blessing and it’s been so incredible to have their support,” Tveit says.

Luhrmann furthered his support for the Broadway show when he served as the photographer for the cast’s recent Vogue feature.

“We had a big portrait that was in Vogue last month and actually that we shot that and Baz himself shot it,” Tveit said. “What an excellent and incredible thing to have this world that was created that we’re trying to redo on stage and have to creator here.”

And though Tveit has checked a lot of boxes off his list —with a resumé ranging from TV to movies and the stage —he still has one big dream he hopes to achieve as his career continues to bloom.

“I think I would really like to host the Tonys one day,” he says referencing fellow actors Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman who’ve hosted Broadway’s biggest night. “That’s something that I’ve gotten to be a part of that a few times and you know, I’ve gotten to present and stuff but I’d love to host something like that one day. That could be a lot of fun.”

Moulin Rogue! The Musical opens at the Al Hirschfeld Theater Thursday, July 25.

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