Nick Rashad Burroughs as Toulouse-Lautrec and Gabe Martinez as Santiago of the North American tour of Moulin Rouge, The Musical.

Renaissance Man Gabe Martinez on Why the Philadelphia Premiere of Moulin Rouge! The Musical is ‘The Perfect Night Out’ 

It is time to enter the world of splendor, romance, and eye-popping glitz, grandeur, and glamour when the Broadway hit Moulin Rouge! The Musical heads to the Academy of Music this summer.

Coming to the Academy of Music’s Kimmel Cultural Campus and presented by The Shubert Organization from July 5-23 is the exhilarating Broadway hit Moulin Rouge! The Musical Music. This 10-time Tony Award-winning musical has been described as euphoric, gasp-inducing, and spectacular. In Moulin Rouge! We are told that life is beautiful and forbidden pleasures abound!

Part of the 2022-23 Broadway series, this larger-than-life musical tells the story of star-crossed lovers who fall in love at the Moulin Rouge, a place where Bohemians and aristocrats rub elbows while relishing the electrifying entertainment. This mesmerizing Broadway show won 10 Tony Awards.

Dive into the world of celebrating truth, beauty, freedom, and most importantly, love, as this musical-remix extravaganza comes to life in front of your eyes. Moulin Rouge! The Musical is more than just a musical – it’s a state of mind!

Inspired by the greatest popular music of the past 50 years, Moulin Rouge! The Musical not only includes many iconic songs from the 2001 film such as the Oscar-winning hit “Come What May,” but also features renditions and mashups of more recent hits from artists including Lady Gaga, Adele, Pink, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, and Rihanna. 

Released by 20th Century Fox, Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. At the 74th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture, and won two of them.

The Moulin Rouge of Paris is a dazzling and spectacular universe, the symbol of the Parisian way of celebrating since 1889. Starting life as a popular cabaret and dance hall, the venue became an iconic music hall in the Roaring Twenties and then a theatre where numerous famous French and international artists stepped out into the limelight. From the moment the curtain goes up we are delighted by talk of fantasies, affairs, carnal desires, romance, and of course, love. This musical is lively, colorful, high-energy, and spirited. Everything you want in a musical and more. This is one big party and you are thrilled that you were invited!

In the pivotal role of Santiago is Renaissance man Gabe Martinez, a graduate of Muhlenberg College and a longtime veteran of the cruise ship and wedding band circuits.

His favorite credits: are Peter and the Starcatcher (Slank), In the Heights (Usnavi), Hair (Berger), Sister Act (Curtis), and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Barfée).  

It is clear that Martinez is more than smitten with Moulin Rouge! The Musical, and he wants all of us to see it this July.  

“If you are a theater person, it’s just the best kind of warm, fuzzy Broadway musical.  It hits all the right notes. It’s sexy, it’s splashy, and it’s fun,” Martinez explained. “It’s the perfect night out; you can’t go wrong. You’re going to have so much fun and you’re going to want to come back.”

Read on for why Gabe Martinez knows you will love the North American Tour of Moulin Rouge, why he is excited to tour Philadelphia with his wife on his day off, and when he fell in love with musical theater.

The cast of the North American tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical!
The cast of the North American tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical! Photo credit: Matthew Murphy/Murphymade

Where are you on this lovely summer day?

Gabe Martinez:  We are in Cleveland. Oh my gosh, I really had to think, didn’t I?  Somewhere around Portland in January, I had to take 30 seconds every morning to go through the map and remember where in the world I was.

That’s funny. When did you start with this tour?

Gabe Martinez:  We started rehearsals in January 2022. We got to Chicago at the end of February and we’ve just been rolling through the cities since then.  It’s been almost a year and a half now.

Are you familiar with Philadelphia?

Gabe Martinez:  Not terribly. I’m a North Jersey guy and I never did get down to Philly too much, but my wife is a Pennsylvania native and spent a great deal of time in Philly. She will be living with us on the road in Philly and she’s very excited, has got a lot of items on her list for us to check off.

If we had met 10 or 15 years ago and you had been talking about the career, the dreams, the things that you wanted to do, how would that compare to what your life is? 

Gabe Martinez:  It’s hard to say. Some 10, 15 years ago, if we say that I was getting out of college, I think a lot of people coming out of college for this type of theater have probably big fish, small pond syndrome. I think at that point it was like, yeah, well, I’m going to get to Broadway someday. 

In the intervening years, as I worked my way through this industry, sang a lot of weddings, did a lot of cruise ships, and played a lot of coffeehouses. I have learned that this sort of upper echelon of the musical theater industry is so competitive that at a certain point, it ceases to become about who’s more qualified or who’s more talented and it’s just kind of being in the right place at the right time and it’s kind of a lottery.

So, that’s the long way of saying that in the period of time since then I’ve become kind of okay with the idea that Broadway is probably never going to happen just because the numbers are so against you, but then this level of Broadway tour sort of falls in your lap and it’s having to reshape that narrative in your mind. So, I’ve kind of come all the way back around the loop to where this is kind of the on-deck circle for Broadway. This level of national tours and this level of exposure, media attention, is kind of as good as it gets and I just feel so lucky. Honestly, it feels like winning the lottery. 

Gabe Martinez (front-right) and the cast of the North American tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical.
Gabe Martinez (front-right) and the cast of the North American tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Photo credit: Matthew Mjurphy/Murphymade

Moulin Rouge!, how much did you know of the show before you started rehearsing, the movie, the Broadway version, how entrenched were you? 

Gabe Martinez:  I came in pretty raw, which is unusual.  I’d only ever seen the movie once before I got cast. I hadn’t seen the show, I hadn’t listened to the album and really didn’t know much about it at all.  Because of that, I have watched the movie a couple of times since then, but for me, this show is Moulin Rouge!

After I got cast, they sent me to see it on Broadway, I cried the whole time.  I’m so deeply in love with this show.  And I still don’t have much of a relationship with the movie but I know from talking to many, many people that whatever your mileage is on the movie, everyone loves the show one way or another for different reasons. 

I’m pleased that I came in with the level of exposure that I did because I think I got to really create my own relationship with this material rather than having it be informed by a very popular movie from over 20 years ago.

If somebody loves the movie or the Broadway show or is not familiar with any of it, tell me reasons why they should come and see this tour.

Gabe Martinez:  If you love the movie, it’s very faithful to the movie.  The style, the aesthetic, the vibes, because Baz Luhrmann did have an extremely heavy hand in making the show. It’s a great translation but it’s also very, very faithful to the movie. 

If you don’t know the movie or the show at all, just show up.  Just show up and expect to have a great time, you’re going to know at least half of the music. You’re going to sing along, you’re going to laugh, you’re going to cry. There’s really something for everyone.

I know some shows have groupies that come back a lot and travel to different cities or you see people in the audience and you know they’ve been there many times.  Does this show have that kind of cachet?

Gabe Martinez:  It does. And that was a real surprise to me because I’ve never been terribly active on social media but now, we have, as opposed to 10 or 20 years ago, this whole new frontier by which fans can follow the show even if they can’t make it out to the city, they can post and share things that the cast have shared. We have fans that know us by name and we know them by their Instagram handles, and I’ve never experienced anything like that in our career and it’s been so fun.  It’s been so very fun. 

We see familiar faces at the stage door that has come to four or five different cities, have seen the show 20 times, and it’s really created another level of, I’m trying to find a better word than intimacy, but familiarity.  We really do have a sort of parasocial relationship with these people and it’s kind of a warm, fuzzy feeling to know that we have people that are following us and are rooting for us and that our work speaks to them in a way that they want to engage with on this level.  It’s been really, really nice.

Adea Michelle Sessoms and Jennifer Wolfe in the North American tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical.
Adea Michelle Sessoms and Jennifer Wolfe in the North American tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

When somebody watches you perform and wants to follow in your footsteps, directing, writing, acting, all of these very difficult gets, what would you tell them to do or not do for their career?

Gabe Martinez:  I think to be resilient, be yourself, and be adaptable. I think that when it comes to so many people in this industry, they came in with a very clear idea of what they wanted to do, and this industry can be so challenging and unforgiving. If you can be resilient and hang in there, if you can stay true to yourself, and if you can adapt to whatever the industry throws at you, I think that’s the best way to find a career in this industry. There are careers to be had but it is so competitive and it demands so much of the people in it, if you can do those three things you have a really good shot.

It’s more to do with that than any sort of natural talent.  You have to be willing to stick with it. You can’t anticipate what the industry wants you to be, and you really have to be ready to change your plans at a moment’s notice.  I know that in my career I’ve traveled so much and after the pandemic.  I didn’t want to do another tour, I didn’t want to do another cruise ship; I wanted to stay home.  And this fell into my lap and I was like, “Well, okay, there go my plans because I have to take this.  I just have to do this.”  It’s been such a challenge but I’m so, so glad I did, honestly.

So, is your wife, Emily Martinez, a performer?

Gabe:  She is.  She just finished an Off-Broadway run. She’s back in the swing of things, gigging, jobbing, and auditioning.  Now that we’re headed East, it’s much more realistic for her to come live with us on tour and still be within striking distance of New York if she needs to get out for auditions or workshops or readings or anything like that.

So, when you have a free day in whatever town, Philly let’s say, what are the two of you doing?  Or what are you doing with your other tour people?  Eating, touring, coffee shops?

Gabe Martinez: I know that I’m going to need to rest my body and recuperate on those days off, but I’m looking forward to exploring Philly. Because we are there for quite a bit longer than we have been in our last however many cities.  We’ve had a lot of two and three-week runs, so having a solid month in Philly is going to be nice to settle and get our feet under us, and really see what the city has to offer.  I know that I spent so much of my life so close to Philly and really haven’t been able to explore, so I’m looking forward to that for sure.

Do you have a couple of favorite songs in the score?

Gabe Martinez:  Definitely. At the top of act two, there’s a mashup of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance and a couple of other songs.  When you come to see it, you’ll know why it’s my favorite.  And then I also really, really love the Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend mashup early in act one.  I’m not even in it and a few of us just sit off stage and watch it every night, 400-plus times, I never miss that number. I think it’s called Backstage Romance in the program.  Backstage Romance and Diamonds are my two favorites.

Austin Durant and the cast of the North American tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical.
Austin Durant and the cast of the North American tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Photo credit Matthew Murphy/Murphymade

Do you remember the first Broadway show, or Broadway musical that you saw, either in a community theater or on Broadway?

Gabe Martinez: The first musical that I ever saw was not on Broadway, I honestly don’t remember where it was but my parents took me.  I think I was four and it was Anything Goes. When they sang Blow, Gabriel, Blow, I thought they were singing about me, and I cried at intermission because I thought it was over.  I was inconsolable because I thought the show was over and my parents could not explain to me that there was more show to come.

After that, they took me to see a few Broadway shows. I remember in particular I was maybe 13 or 14 and I saw Les Mis on Broadway, and we got really great tickets and sat in the second row. And that was a moment where I was like, “Oh, yeah, this is what I have to do. I have to be involved in this.  This has got to be my whole life someday.” Those are the two shows that really stick out to me. 

So, are there any other reasons that we haven’t covered about why my readers should definitely come and see the show?

Gabe Martinez:  There’s something for everybody. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t love it.  If you’re not a theater person, this is a great sort of onboarding because you’re going to recognize so many of the songs.  If you are a theater person, it’s just the best kind of warm, fuzzy Broadway musical.  It hits all the right notes. It’s sexy, it’s splashy, it’s fun.  It’s the perfect night out. It’s the perfect night out, you can’t go wrong. You’re going to have so much fun and you’re going to want to come back.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is currently playing on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre where it opened to rave reviews in 2019. 

Tickets information for the Academy of Music production:

Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999 or online at

In-person ticket sales can be conducted daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. at the Academy of Music Box Office, located at 240 S. Broad Street. See for more information. 

Please visit or follow @MoulinRougeBway on Twitter Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok

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