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‘Moulin Rouge!’ Producers Bill Damaschke And Carmen Pavlovic On Show’s New Resonance After 2020’s Devastation

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Moulin Rouge! The Musical producers Bill Damaschke and Carmen Pavlovic reflected during tonight’s Tony Awards on how differently the show plays in 2021 than it did before the onset of Covid-19.

The show, which took home 10 Tonys tonight, including Best Musical, just resumed performances last Friday. The return added even more of a jolt to an already highly emotional evening.

Escapism and razzle-dazzle are still keys to the show’s appeal, Damaschke said in a backstage press interview, “but now the heart and the story is even more resonant.” He mused on the arc of the musical and how it tracks the agonizing year and a half endured by Broadway, New York and the world.

“The show is about a group of people who make theater and who are fighting for their home and coming together against extreme odds to do so,” he said. “We had that in our own company and we had something that we loved and it was all taken away from us. I don’t think anyone took it for granted whether we might come back, how we would come back and the re-coming-together of our company and the rehearsal process. Every word means something new. Every word has new meaning and depth to it.”

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Pavlovic said the show’s return last Friday was a “very emotional first performance back.” Agreeing with her producing partner, she went on, “The hunger is great for spectacle and escapism, but at the same time, feelings are still deep and there’s a lot of heaviness around us. There’s a moment in the show when Satine tells her show family she has consumption. It’s just ahead of their opening night and she uses words to the effect of, ‘Hold me up, don’t pity me. We’re going to be on that stage one more time together.’ You sit in the audience and you hear a line like that and it literally sends chills up your spine. It’s just art imitating life. It’s quite amazing in that way.”

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