Emmy nominee Tituss Burgess began performances as club owner Harold Zidler in Broadway's Moulin Rouge! The Musical October 10. The actor's limited run will continue through December 17. Check out what Burgess had to say about his return to the Main Stem in the video above.
Known for his performance as Titus Andromedon in Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Burgess has also been seen in the second season of Schmigadoon! His performance in Moulin Rouge! is the actor's first return to Broadway since playing Nicely-Nicely Johnson in the 2009 revival of Guys and Dolls. Other Broadway credits include Good Vibrations, Jersey Boys, and The Little Mermaid.
"I was itching to get back [to Broadway], I just didn't know how it was going to happen," Burgess says. "It was all sort of serendipitous, and I jumped at the chance...I can honestly say, with all the sincerity I can muster, that Moulin Rouge! is the family I did not know that I needed."
Burgess says he's seen Moulin Rouge! twice. He recalls admiring the musical's vibrant energy, but not expecting to be a part of it. After being cast, Burgess had two weeks to learn the show, and big shoes to fill—Danny Burstein won a Tony Award for originating the role of Zidler.
"My Zidler is different from the others, he's perhaps a tad more tender," Burgess says. "He cares a great deal for Satine, but he also cares a great deal for commerce...I've learned a great deal from him—you do whatever you've got to do to make the show go on, and it's true for that character, and it's also true for our lives."
After working in several different artistic mediums, Burgess emphasizes the importance of live theatre in turbulent times.
"It's a very tense, dense place to exist, this planet," Burgess says. "Our jobs are to give as much magic as possible, and while those bottoms are sitting in those seats, to take their minds away from the macro, the world at large and all that plagues us, and to offer a little bit of magic." See photos of Burgess at the press event below.
The current Broadway cast of Moulin Rouge! is led by Courtney Reed as Satine, Casey Cott as Christian, André Ward as Toulouse-Lautrec, David Harris as The Duke of Monroth, and Sophie Carmen-Jones as Nini. Oyoyo Joi is the Satine Alternate.
Gabe Martínez also joined the company October 10, making his Broadway debut as Santiago, the role he originated in Moulin Rouge's first national tour.
The company also includes Jacqueline B. Arnold, Tasia Jungbauer, David Merino, Cameron Burke, Nick Burrage, Patrick Clanton, Tilly Evans-Krueger, Alexander Gil Cruz, Bobby Daye, Taurean Everett, Aaron C. Finley, Stephen Hernandez, Bahiyah Hibah, Heather Makalani, Nick Martinez, Kara Menendez, Kaitlin Mesh, Kelsey Orem, Dylan Paul, Clay Rice-Thomson, Amy Quanbeck, Jenn Stafford, Brandon Stonestreet, Alec Varcas, Cole Wachman, Bria Jené Williams, Ricardo Zayas, and Jordan Wynn.
Moulin Rouge!, based on the 2001 film, opened on Broadway in 2019 following a Boston tryout. The musical was subsequently nominated for 14 Tony Awards in 2020, winning 10, including Best Musical.
The production is directed by Alex Timbers with a book by John Logan (based on the Baz Luhrmann-directed movie of the same name) and choreography by Sonya Tayeh. The score features covers of "Fireworks" by Katy Perry, "Your Song" by Elton John, and "Chandelier" by Sia, among many other modern pop songs. The story takes place at Paris' famed Moulin Rouge and follows the tragic love story between performer Satine and composer Christian.
The production's music team includes musical supervisor Justin Levine, music producer Matt Stine, and music director Julie McBride. Orchestrations are by Levine, Stine, Katie Kresek, and Charlie Rosen, with dance arrangements by Levine and Stine.
Also on the creative team are scenic designer Derek McLane, costume designer Catherine Zuber, lighting designer Justin Townsend, sound designer Peter Hylenski, hair designer David Brian Brown, and makeup designer Sarah Cimino, with creative services by Luhrmann and Catherine Martin. Casting is by Jim Carnahan and Stephen Kopel.