moulin rouge
(Image: Moulin Rogue!/Matthew Murphy)

Broadway theatres might be closed until at least next year but the show goes on when it comes to their prestigious Tony awards.

And when the nominations were announced overnight the big winner was… Australia.

(Okay that might sound a tad jingoistic but with the local arts sector in dire need of financial support, Canberra needs to be reminded which winners to back.)

Moulin Rouge!, the spectacular live theatre production of the Baz Luhrmann movie, received a whopping 14 nominations including best musical.

The show was produced by Australian company Global Creatures which was founded by Gerry Ryan and Carmen Pavlovic back in 2007. It is the first Australian production to actually originate on Broadway as opposed to locally produced shows like Boy From Oz which transferred overseas.

It took over a decade and an estimated $28 million to launch on New York’s notoriously difficult theatre scene. So it was with relief that the extravagant show, even bigger and bolder than the film, met with critical acclaim and strong box office when it opened last July.

It was forced to close with the rest of Broadway in March and no shows are reopening before at least June 2021.

Pavlovic told Crikey this morning it will definitely be reopening and that they are also working on some 16 international Moulin Rouge! productions, including Melbourne early next year.

“This show has the potential to return hundreds of millions of dollars to Australia in terms of royalties and licence fees” she said.

(Scott Morrison please take note of the economic benefits of the performing arts over, say, sport.)

There is a great irony in the success of Moulin Rouge! as it came in the same year that Global Creatures’ other big Broadway production, King Kong, was panned by critics and had only a brief run.

“It was bittersweet to be closing King Kong in the week we had our first preview of Moulin Rouge!,” said Pavlovic.

And while it was a weird year for the Tonys with a much reduced field of eligible candidates, NY critics stress Moulin Rouge! strongly deserves all the accolades.

The show is guaranteed to take home at least one statue when the awards are announced later this year — the best actor in a musical category only has one contender, their own Aaron Tveit.