Love and gun fights

Photo courtesy of Charlie McCullers

Paris, forbidden love, gun fights, intrigue and lots of dancing — such are the elements (among many others) that make “Moulin Rouge” an unforgettable ballet. Named after a famous Parisian night club from the ‘20s, this show tells a story of the dangers of instant fame and fiery passions against the backdrop of Paris’s thriving entertainment.

The stage is set with Parisian icons like the Eiffel Tower and the city’s grandiose night life. With such an inspired background, this show captures all of the romance of the roaring ‘20s in Europe. The scandalous life of a flapper is portrayed in sharp contrast with the simple lives of the protagonist (Nathalie) and the painter with whom she is in love (Matthew) before she is whisked off to the spotlight of a Parisian nightclub, where she quickly becomes the star and captures the amorous attentions of the club’s owner.

Nathalie is played by Nadia Mara, a Uruguayan native who has performed the lead in “Giselle,” Kitri in “Don Quixote” and the Sugar Plum Fairy in “Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker,” among others. Matthew, with whom Nathalie must escape the jealous attentions of an unwanted lover, is portrayed by Christian Clark, who has trained with the Atlanta Ballet since he was eight years old and has performed as Laertes in “Hamlet,” Siegfried in “Swan Lake” and the Prince in “Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker,” as well as many others. These two seasoned actors bring their characters to life through the art of ballet and carry the show without as much as a stumble.

Romance, conflict and the allure of the City of Love combine for a dramatic, tragic and heart-stopping display of physical prowess in the form of “Moulin Rouge,” which has plenty of suspense. From the moment the curtain first rose to the final bow, the audience sat spellbound by the graceful movements of the performers, complemented by the beautiful French sets and the period costumes.

In addition to the actual performance of the intricate dances that tell the story, the costumes themselves are worth seeing. Bright, gaudy show-girl dresses and perfectly-tailored suits combine with elegant evening gowns and oversized feather boas to put the finishing touches on the ballet’s vibrant portrayal of night-life in Paris.

Although some might be wary of the ballet given its lack of words and an abundance of dancing, the extremely talented performers at Georgia’s No. 1 ballet bring the story to life with grace and lots of pirouettes. Fight scenes and romance are portrayed with equal beauty as the stage resounds with the unspoken, but not uncommunicated, drama that unfolds before the audience. What the show lacks in verbal communication is amply made up for with evocative choreography and stirring musical pieces.

The only drawback to the ballet for Tech students is distance. The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre is located in Marietta, about a 15–20 minute drive from campus. It is, however, accessible for ride-sharing services for those students who are without access to a car.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching and restaurant reservations in short supply, plan-less couples (and dates looking to impress) should start thinking outside the box. While “Moulin Rouge” is only showing through Feb. 13, “The Sleeping Beauty” opens on Feb. 10 and will be playing through the 14th.

With the performing arts centre’s atmosphere of grandeur and romance, this ballet is the perfect opportunity for the viewers to dress up and enjoy an evening out with that special someone or in a solo rebellion against all of the Valentine traditions. Tickets range from $20 to $175, but the intimate theater setting means that every seat in the house has an excellent view of the stage.

While tickets are available at the door, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre rewards those who plan ahead, as the will-call line before each show is considerably shorter, so buying tickets ahead of time is greatly advantageous and saves eager performance-goers a long wait out in the cold at the ticket window.