(Not So) Famous Firsts: Richard Elfman’s “Forbidden Zone”

My goal with (Not So) Famous Firsts is to remind myself that everyone has stumbling blocks to get over. Steven Spielberg wasn’t automatically a superstar when he directed the made-for-TV movie Duel. But filmmakers, for the most part, always maintained the same passions and ideas that they wanted to convey to their audience. Some directors just gained a larger canvas to work on as time went on.

But the opposite can also happen. I’ve been strangely addicted to watching Todd in the Shadow’s “One Hit Wonderland” series lately. It’s great to hear how many musicians tried their best to stay in the spotlight – and how some are still working today in ways we’d never guess. And it doesn’t just apply to the music industry. A director makes one film that seemingly marks them for future success. It’s a film that may still retain a cult following and that critics may love. But they’re not able to replicate their success and must spend decades resting their laurels on one film. They’re a variety of reasons for this. It could have been years before their film received any proper recognition due to a bad distribution deal. Maybe they did try but they were offered projects that weren’t as strong. Or perhaps making that breakthrough film proved to be such a stressful experience that they didn’t want to try again.

Some of these individuals are rightfully forgotten, but some had their careers unfairly marked for an early death. And we’re here to figure out which is which. We’ll be getting into some heavy hitters later, but today we’ll be starting with one of the weirdest musicals ever shot – Richard Elfman’s Forbidden Zone.

Background

Richard Elfman is the founder of a performance art troupe called The Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo. It was original a theater troupe that, like fellow bizarro musician Tiny Tim, focused on pop culture from an era long since passed. They performed Cab Calloway songs and world music during their stage show, but never made a record. Practically the only thing that exists from this era is an appearance on The Gong Show, which they won. Richard’s brother Danny Elfman eventually took over leadership and, about a decade after its founding, the group started enjoying popular success as a straight rock band. Unfortunately, they broke up in 1995 and have never properly reunited.

While his brother was becoming more interested in the musical aspect of the troupe (eventually shortening its name to just “Oingo Boingo”), Richard was becoming more interested in film-making. He wanted to rework Boingo’s stage performances as a film. This wasn’t a new idea at first. Besides big films like Yellow Submarine and Tommy, several cult bands found the future was in video and film and not just music. Frank Zappa co-directed 200 Motels to showcase The Mothers of Invention, Devo became famous for their music videos before those were in the mainstream, and avant garde group The Residents tried to make their own film, Vileness Fats, under the same conditions that Elfman later made his film. Forbidden Zone was released only a year before MTV started and, for a while, the channel had to showcase cult bands as they were the only music videos available. Elfman certainly had the right idea. But would it translate to a mass audience?

Forbidden Zone

The most accurate description of the movie I’ve ever heard is that it’s “Eraserhead meets Pee Wee’s Playhouse.” That tells you everything you need to know. There’s nominally a story about the bizarre Hercules family who live in a house that happens to contain a portal to an alternate universe called either The Sixth Dimension or The Forbidden Zone. (The exact nature of this universe isn’t explained.)  Frenchy Hercules is obsessed with going their and actually manages to do so after running away from school. There, she attracts the attention of the Zone’s king (Herve Villechieze) and the jealousy of the queen (Susan Tyrell). The rest of the family goes to find her and…

Look, the plot is meaningless. It’s essentially an excuse for many weird vignettes featuring stop motion, dropped frames and sped up film, music that was 50 years old when the film was made (which admittedly leads to a killer soundtrack), performance artists talking gibberish, and (seriously) black face. 

Richard Elfman really wanted to capture the early days of animation, where the spectacle was enough for an audience and what was happening to the characters was largely irrelevant. What mattered was the presentation. Animation used to be a huge technical marvel and Betty Boop cartoons were enormously popular. People couldn’t believe that you could make just ink and doodles move. Of course, after almost 50 years of Disney films, that sort of marvel was impossible. So Elfman went backwards. Instead of polished special effects, he used cardboard props. Instead of great acting, he used vaudeville style clowning. And instead of easily accessible pop music, Elfman used pop from decades ago that sounded like it was from a different planet.

But even in the 1980s, the only way that would work is if Elfman injected a healthy dose of post-modern irony. And he kind of does via the music. Oingo Boingo had already created a strange combination of old pop music, world music, and Devo-style synth music. The film somehow manages to capture all those elements via the different mediums its working in. The soundtrack, on its own, is great. But when combined with the wacky performances of the film, something much weirder happens.

Take the “Pico and Sepulveda” number, the only completely straight musical sequence in the film. It’s lip-synced to the original record and the entire thing was shot using cardboard boxes standing in for cards. Combine it with bad choreography and amateurish blocking and it feels like some weird show public access TV used to play in the wee hours of the morning.

But despite that it’s utterly charming and, if it were more polished, it wouldn’t have the same effect. We aren’t transported back in time to Depression era LA nor are we transported into a parallel universe ruled by a dwarf king. We’re seeing a man trying to create the impression that we are. And to copy performance art Oingo Boingo originally made, that approach is the only way to capture the tone of their shows. They thrived props that looked barely put together and music that was the completely opposite of what was popular at the time.

A few paragraphs ago I mentioned something that was probably enough to ensure a lot of people won’t ever watch this movie – the blackface. I am nowhere near intelligent enough to explain that away, but it feels more like a Robert Crumb comic rather than something out of a white nationalist pamphlet. The point seems to be that, if you’re going to fetishize the past, then you must confront the warts that come with the past. Besides, Forbidden Zone does try to balance the scales by having one of the few actual black actors in the film call his white teacher a “honkey bitch.”

Richard Elfman demonstrated he was certainly smart enough to make the unworkable somehow work. Forbidden Zone is incredibly rough around the edges and doesn’t always hit the marks it means to. And yes, some of the gags have aged very poorly. But I could say the same thing about Yellow Submarine. What matters is that Elfman accomplished exactly what he wanted to. He demonstrated that the visual aesthetic was becoming just as important for music as the actual songs.

Follow Up

Despite a supposed newfound interest in film-making, for over a decade Elfman only directed Oingo Boingo music videos. He didn’t make a feature again until 1994’s Shrunken Heads, which was quickly followed up by Streets of Rage. The latter was an attempt to jump start professional wrestler Mimi Lesseos’ acting career, while the former was a Full Moon Studios production that somehow got released into theaters. After making the direct to video Modern Vampires, he seemingly disappeared again emerging only to direct two belly dancing documentaries. At the time of this writing, his new film Hipsters, Gangsters, Aliens and Geeks is in post-production and a trailer has been released. It stars his son, his wife, and French Stewart. Although I’ve no doubt some people will enjoy it, I don’t think it’s going to lead to a second Elfman wave. He’s also been teasing a Forbidden Zone for years, including an appearance on SyFy’s Monster Man and a teaser video made for Indiegogo. But considering it supposedly entered pre-production ten years ago and the campaign video was made in 2014, it’s unlikely anything will ever be made.

Elfman on the set of Hipsters with Verne Troyer.

The strangest thing is how many careers this kickstarted. Besides Danny Elfman, this was the first film Matthew Bright ever did. He came to prominence in the 90s by the directing the unique thriller Freeway, a breakout film for Keifer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon. Unfortunately his career went down the drain after he directed, well…this. It also helped Susan Tyrell stay in the spotlight. She remained a cult character actor until her death in 2012. Villechaize tragically had his career cut short by declining health that culminated in a suicide, but his role in Forbidden Zone is still cited by fans of outsider music.

Yet Richard Elfman was left behind. Forbidden Zone slowly gained a cult following and some screenings even feature a “shadow cast” a la Rocky Horror. While I enjoy filmmakers who embrace their fans, it feels far too late for Elfman to jump on the bandwagon. Could you imagine Tim Curry in the 1990s regularly showing up to Rocky Horror screenings not only meet fans but to perform with them as well? After one time I would imagine the novelty wears off.

Could Richard Elfman Have Done it Again?

If Richard Elfman wanted to keep the momentum going, he needed to make the follow up immediately after Forbidden Zone was released. But it was a massive flop that bankrupted him, and he was reluctant to try again.

Not only that, but the band was quickly moving on without him. One year after the film was released, the rechristened Oingo Boingo released their first album. And the next year, one of their songs closed out Fast Times at Ridgemont High. And then, in 1985, Danny Elfman wrote his first film score. The band was moving away from the sort of performance material that lead to Forbidden Zone. Even if the band was on board for an immediate follow up, it would not have had the singularly weird tone and visual style that makes Forbidden Zone still stand out today. It likely would have been more of a concert film, and the 1980s had no shortage of those.

But, for the same reason Oingo Boingo hasn’t reunited in 24 years, it’s also possible Richard Elfman’s strange vision couldn’t have lasted as his unique vision became more mainstream. He was right on the cusp of the independent film boom and the direct to video market – two things that diluted Elfman’s unique vision. He couldn’t keep up with the new wave he helped start.

(Flash in the Pan) Famous Firsts – Richard Elfman’s Forbidden Zone

My goal with (Not So) Famous Firsts is to remind myself that everyone has stumbling blocks to get over. Steven Spielberg wasn’t automatically a superstar when he directed the made-for-TV movie Duel. But filmmakers, for the most part, always maintained the same passions and ideas that they wanted to convey to their audience. Some directors just gained a larger canvas to work on as time went on.

But the opposite can also happen. I’ve been strangely addicted to watching Todd in the Shadow’s “One Hit Wonderland” series lately. It’s great to hear how many musicians tried their best to stay in the spotlight – and how some are still working today in ways we’d never guess. And it doesn’t just apply to the music industry. A director makes one film that seemingly marks them for future success. It’s a film that may still retain a cult following and that critics may love. But they’re not able to replicate their success and must spend decades resting their laurels on one film. They’re a variety of reasons for this. It could have been years before their film received any proper recognition due to a bad distribution deal. Maybe they did try but they were offered projects that weren’t as strong. Or perhaps making that breakthrough film proved to be such a stressful experience that they didn’t want to try again.

Some of these individuals are rightfully forgotten, but some had their careers unfairly marked for an early death. And we’re here to figure out which is which. We’ll be getting into some heavy hitters later, but today we’ll be starting with one of the weirdest musicals ever shot – Richard Elfman’s Forbidden Zone.

Background

Richard Elfman is the founder of a performance art troupe called The Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo. It was original a theater troupe that, like fellow bizarro musician Tiny Tim, focused on pop culture from an era long since passed. They performed Cab Calloway songs and world music during their stage show, but never made a record. Practically the only thing that exists from this era is an appearance on The Gong Show, which they won. Richard’s brother Danny Elfman eventually took over leadership and, about a decade after its founding, the group started enjoying popular success as a straight rock band. Unfortunately, they broke up in 1995 and have never properly reunited.

While his brother was becoming more interested in the musical aspect of the troupe (eventually shortening its name to just “Oingo Boingo”), Richard was becoming more interested in film-making. He wanted to rework Boingo’s stage performances as a film. This wasn’t a new idea at first. Besides big films like Yellow Submarine and Tommy, several cult bands found the future was in video and film and not just music. Frank Zappa co-directed 200 Motels to showcase The Mothers of Invention, Devo became famous for their music videos before those were in the mainstream, and avant garde group The Residents tried to make their own film, Vileness Fats, under the same conditions that Elfman later made his film. Forbidden Zone was released only a year before MTV started and, for a while, the channel had to showcase cult bands as they were the only music videos available. Elfman certainly had the right idea. But would it translate to a mass audience?

Forbidden Zone

The most accurate description of the movie I’ve ever heard is that it’s “Eraserhead meets Pee Wee’s Playhouse.” That tells you everything you need to know. There’s nominally a story about the bizarre Hercules family who live in a house that happens to contain a portal to an alternate universe called either The Sixth Dimension or The Forbidden Zone. (The exact nature of this universe isn’t explained.)  Frenchy Hercules is obsessed with going their and actually manages to do so after running away from school. There, she attracts the attention of the Zone’s king (Herve Villechieze) and the jealousy of the queen (Susan Tyrell). The rest of the family goes to find her and…

Look, the plot is meaningless. It’s essentially an excuse for many weird vignettes featuring stop motion, dropped frames and sped up film, music that was 50 years old when the film was made (which admittedly leads to a killer soundtrack), performance artists talking gibberish, and (seriously) black face. 

Richard Elfman really wanted to capture the early days of animation, where the spectacle was enough for an audience and what was happening to the characters was largely irrelevant. What mattered was the presentation. Animation used to be a huge technical marvel and Betty Boop cartoons were enormously popular. People couldn’t believe that you could make just ink and doodles move. Of course, after almost 50 years of Disney films, that sort of marvel was impossible. So Elfman went backwards. Instead of polished special effects, he used cardboard props. Instead of great acting, he used vaudeville style clowning. And instead of easily accessible pop music, Elfman used pop from decades ago that sounded like it was from a different planet.

But even in the 1980s, the only way that would work is if Elfman injected a healthy dose of post-modern irony. And he kind of does via the music. Oingo Boingo had already created a strange combination of old pop music, world music, and Devo-style synth music. The film somehow manages to capture all those elements via the different mediums its working in. The soundtrack, on its own, is great. But when combined with the wacky performances of the film, something much weirder happens.

Take the “Pico and Sepulveda” number, the only completely straight musical sequence in the film. It’s lip-synced to the original record and the entire thing was shot using cardboard boxes standing in for cards. Combine it with bad choreography and amateurish blocking and it feels like some weird show public access TV used to play in the wee hours of the morning.

But despite that it’s utterly charming and, if it were more polished, it wouldn’t have the same effect. We aren’t transported back in time to Depression era LA nor are we transported into a parallel universe ruled by a dwarf king. We’re seeing a man trying to create the impression that we are. And to copy performance art Oingo Boingo originally made, that approach is the only way to capture the tone of their shows. They thrived props that looked barely put together and music that was the completely opposite of what was popular at the time.

A few paragraphs ago I mentioned something that was probably enough to ensure a lot of people won’t ever watch this movie – the blackface. I am nowhere near intelligent enough to explain that away, but it feels more like a Robert Crumb comic rather than something out of a white nationalist pamphlet. The point seems to be that, if you’re going to fetishize the past, then you must confront the warts that come with the past. Besides, Forbidden Zone does try to balance the scales by having one of the few actual black actors in the film call his white teacher a “honkey bitch.”

Richard Elfman demonstrated he was certainly smart enough to make the unworkable somehow work. Forbidden Zone is incredibly rough around the edges and doesn’t always hit the marks it means to. And yes, some of the gags have aged very poorly. But I could say the same thing about Yellow Submarine. What matters is that Elfman accomplished exactly what he wanted to. He demonstrated that the visual aesthetic was becoming just as important for music as the actual songs.

Follow Up

Despite a supposed newfound interest in film-making, for over a decade Elfman only directed Oingo Boingo music videos. He didn’t make a feature again until 1994’s Shrunken Heads, which was quickly followed up by Streets of Rage. The latter was an attempt to jump start professional wrestler Mimi Lesseos’ acting career, while the former was a Full Moon Studios production that somehow got released into theaters. After making the direct to video Modern Vampires, he seemingly disappeared again emerging only to direct two belly dancing documentaries. At the time of this writing, his new film Hipsters, Gangsters, Aliens and Geeks is in post-production and a trailer has been released. It stars his son, his wife, and French Stewart. Although I’ve no doubt some people will enjoy it, I don’t think it’s going to lead to a second Elfman wave. He’s also been teasing a Forbidden Zone for years, including an appearance on SyFy’s Monster Man and a teaser video made for Indiegogo. But considering it supposedly entered pre-production ten years ago and the campaign video was made in 2014, it’s unlikely anything will ever be made.

Elfman on the set of Hipsters with Verne Troyer.

The strangest thing is how many careers this kickstarted. Besides Danny Elfman, this was the first film Matthew Bright ever did. He came to prominence in the 90s by the directing the unique thriller Freeway, a breakout film for Keifer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon. Unfortunately his career went down the drain after he directed, well…this. It also helped Susan Tyrell stay in the spotlight. She remained a cult character actor until her death in 2012. Villechaize tragically had his career cut short by declining health that culminated in a suicide, but his role in Forbidden Zone is still cited by fans of outsider music.

Yet Richard Elfman was left behind. Forbidden Zone slowly gained a cult following and some screenings even feature a “shadow cast” a la Rocky Horror. While I enjoy filmmakers who embrace their fans, it feels far too late for Elfman to jump on the bandwagon. Could you imagine Tim Curry in the 1990s regularly showing up to Rocky Horror screenings not only meet fans but to perform with them as well? After one time I would imagine the novelty wears off.

Could Richard Elfman Have Done it Again?

If Richard Elfman wanted to keep the momentum going, he needed to make the follow up immediately after Forbidden Zone was released. But it was a massive flop that bankrupted him, and he was reluctant to try again.

Not only that, but the band was quickly moving on without him. One year after the film was released, the rechristened Oingo Boingo released their first album. And the next year, one of their songs closed out Fast Times at Ridgemont High. And then, in 1985, Danny Elfman wrote his first film score. The band was moving away from the sort of performance material that lead to Forbidden Zone. Even if the band was on board for an immediate follow up, it would not have had the singularly weird tone and visual style that makes Forbidden Zone still stand out today. It likely would have been more of a concert film, and the 1980s had no shortage of those.

But, for the same reason Oingo Boingo hasn’t reunited in 24 years, it’s also possible Richard Elfman’s strange vision couldn’t have lasted as his unique vision became more mainstream. He was right on the cusp of the independent film boom and the direct to video market – two things that diluted Elfman’s unique vision. He couldn’t keep up with the new wave he helped start.

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross: Episode One Hundred Twenty-Three

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross:  Episode One Hundred Twenty Three

What do you do when you’ve packed shows full of information, entertainment and thought?  You do another and make it even better; bigger – thus, Rob and Jon offer up a tour-de-force.

Settle in, because the boys go to town and tackle everything, leaving nothing to bias, including how the left practice virulent racism and willfully buy into conspiracy theory and knee-jerk reactionism; Scaramucci goes anti-Trump? Big deal.  The Democrats deep-faked their own chairman to “point out” their concerns in 2020 (!); 

reviews of Those Pretty Wrongs and The Anderson Council albums;
another reason this is the generation of idiots:  their music is garbage –  from Bon Iver to Mumford & Sons to f.u.n.; why men and women are beyond help; a terrific, funny article about the overboard worship of Woodstock on its 50th anniversary and how some people just do not know how to read objectively – but launch an offensive when you point out their mis-steps; a minor Disney actress tries to make headlines by making a porn film but calls it “art”, plus “In Our Heads” and STILL more!
 
A cup of coffee or a drink would be a good accompaniment, because you’re going to be here for a while, enjoying what Rob and Jon have brought to this week’s table…

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross:  Episode One Hundred Twenty Three

The podcast will be on the site as well as for subscription via iTunes and other podcast aggregators. Subscribe and let people know about Radio City, as well as Popdose’s other great podcasts David Medsker’s Dizzy Heights and In:Sound with Michael Parr and Zack Stiegler.

 

Dizzy Heights #63: ’90s UK Alternative, Part II: The Dance Mix

For the record no, it is not lost on me that my show about UK music opens with artists from Ireland and Germany.

 

This is not the first time that I’ve ventured in these waters. In early 2011 I put together a 1991 beat mix for the site, and in the interest of full disclosure, I lifted a three-song set wholesale from that mix, along with two other songs. I also play a song that I just played two months ago. I try to avoid that when I can, but it just belonged here.

 

When I was working in the clubs, well, most of these songs didn’t exist yet, but even if they had, I was working in pop clubs that only dabbled in alternative, so I would have been fired on the spot for doing a set like this. Putting this show together wasn’t just fun; it was cathartic. 

 

Coming up next: ‘90s UK Alternative, Part III, the Pop Mix. That might sound like a contradiction in terms, but I promise you, it’s not. What is alternative, after all, if not unpopular pop? You think these bands wanted to be cult bands? They didn’t. They all wanted to be superstars.

 

Thank you, as always, for listening.

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross: Episode One Hundred Twenty-Two

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross:  Episode One Hundred Twenty Two

There’s never any rest for the wicked or for the intrepid, so Rob and Jon deliver this latest installment of Radio City… in fine fashion.  This week’s topics include the fallout, handwringing and the usual rhetoric after three gun mass murders; the New York Mets leapfrogging (suddenly) in both the wild card race (and even up the Eastern Division); Olivia Newton John is battling cancer and isn’t sure how long she has left; an American classic restaurant chain, Perkins,  has filed for bankruptcy – most likely, they’ll close the balance of the restaurants they have left; “Beverly Hills 90210” on its 3rd go-around; Gannett being taken over by New Media Investment – how many people will wind up unemployed?, plus “In Our Heads” and even more.
 
You can’t miss with this show.  So kick back, relax and, as always, let Rob and Jon do the heavy lifting for a while.
 

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross:  Episode One Hundred Twenty Two

The podcast will be on the site as well as for subscription via iTunes and other podcast aggregators. Subscribe and let people know about Radio City, as well as Popdose’s other great podcasts David Medsker’s Dizzy Heights and In:Sound with Michael Parr and Zack Stiegler.

 

 

Exit Lines: “Moulin Rouge!”

The camera doesn’t lie–while it may be a publicity still, the photo above is exactly what greets you when you enter the Hirschfeld for Moulin Rouge! The Musical! The former home of Kinky Boots is kicking up its skirts for the latest movie-into-musical, and the wonder is why it took 18 years. Baz Luhrmann’s Oscar-winning hit is a stage natural that fits right into the snugly sinuous theater, elephant and windmills and all.

Moulin Rouge! (2001) didn’t invent the jukebox musical, but it cleverly repurposed it, taking bits and pieces of numerous Top Forty hits and applying  a soundtrack-of-our-lives soundscape to a stock romantic tragedy from a sexy bohemian yesteryear. The Broadway version pumps up the volume; if about two dozen songs mix-mastered in the film seemed excessive, hang on, as there are some 70 in the show, including more up-to-the-minute greatest hits from Adele, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry. 

But the effect is more exciting than overwhelming, a problem with the film, whose unrelenting editing rarely paused for breath. Live may be more complementary for the effect; your eyes are riveted to the stars, to the chorus, wherever the focus is. (Luhrmann served as creative consultant.) From the get-go–a pre-show act, followed by a dynamic staging of “Lady Marmalade”–it hooks you more deeply. That the stars of the show have greater vocal range and more supple dance technique than the stars of the movie (a perennial issue with contemporary movie musicals) is a major plus in putting it across. Simply put, the stage musical is the “spectacular spectacular” that the movie tried so hard to be, and sometimes was.

As drama, however, Moulin Rouge! will always be a bit wanting. Book writer John Logan, a Tony winner for Red and a veteran screenwriter, mostly gets out of the way of the musical numbers in retelling the star-crossed love affair of sweet-natured songwriter Christian (Aaron Tveit, Next to Normal) and Moulin Rouge sensation and courtesan Satine (Karen Olivo, a Tony winner for West Side Story), slipping in dialogue scenes here and there (as in the film, some of the chatter is song lyrics, passed back and forth by the characters). But he and director Alex Timbers (whose adaptation of Beetlejuice is a textbook example of how not to bring a movie to musical stage life) have changed the emotional polarity of Satine, from Nicole Kidman’s breathier, fantasy portrayal to a harder-hearted, nobody’s fool version. Vulnerability is out in the #MeToo era, so here we have a Satine who looks and acts fully capable of beating consumption and her oily patron, the Duke (Tam Mutu). Olivo is terrific in sound and motion, but lacks the poignant softness that Kidman brought to the part, blunting the ending…

…which segues into a fantastic curtain call, so the disappointment is lessened. This Moulin Rouge is all about sensation and atmosphere, with the great Danny Burstein clearly having a whale of a time as owner and MC Harold Zidler, whipping the company into frenzies. As Tveit, a steadying presence, expertly handles quieter numbers like “Your Song,” everyone else has a Big Moment: Mutu’s comes with his introduction, to “Sympathy for the Devil,” Ricky Rojas and Robyn Hurder enact a sizzling “Bad Romance” in dance (Sonya Tayeh is the choreographer); and Sahr Ngaujah (Fela!), a less twitchy Toulouse-Lautrec than John Leguizamo, knocks “Nature Boy” right out of the theater. (A real haymaker of a scene, one that works on the newly available original cast album but that only settles into your bones when experienced live.)

Timbers, who loves to play dress-up in his theatrical spaces, is stuck with the Winter Garden, a barn, for Beetlejuice. The more intimate Hirschfeld provides a more fertile playground, and the show is a field day for Derek McLane (sets), Catherine Zuber (costumes), Justin Townsend (lighting), and Peter Hylenski (sound). You’re bound to sing along with some of Moulin Rouge! while watching it; you’ll exit humming the production, a contact high I still feel.