“Moulin Rouge! The Musical!” / Publicity photo

Out Actor Sharrod Williams Headlines ‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical,’ Matt Terrell Hosts Live Cooking Demo

Many people don’t remember this, but when Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!” was released in movie theaters in 2001, it won two Oscars and was nominated for a slew more, but it wasn’t a major commercial success. Over time, it’s become almost iconic. Now it’s a stage musical whose national tour hits the ATL this week with performer Sharrod Williams in the cast. He plays the role of Pierre.

“Moulin Rouge! The Musical!” hit Broadway in the summer of 2019. The show won 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Actor for Aaron Tveit. It tells the story of a young composer who arrives in Paris and eventually falls in love with Satine, the star performer at the titular Moulin Rouge club.

Pierre is the person who tells the Duke of Monroth that Satine is sneaking around with another man behind his back.

“That is the beginning of the end for the journey of Satine,” Williams said. The actor doesn’t have any lines — it’s a nonspeaking role.

“It has been a test of my acting ability to do this without saying anything,” he said. “It’s fun and difficult. My trajectory in theater has been more of a dance journey, and it’s been fun to be featured in another way.”

That character was written for the musical and isn’t in the movie. Pierre is a queer character, the lover of Nathan Fielder, who runs the club. It’s exciting for Williams to jump into that lane and play an unapologetically gay character — and find the nuance of not making it too camp.

“Showing that queer love on stage is so exciting,” he said. “That exposure, that storyline, is so important for me to share. It’s been fun building him and finding Pierre and finding myself doing this. I think there is never enough space held for queerness in the land of living at the moment and having a queer character is so important. We need to hold space and have more queerness on stage every day. This musical is a great platform for that.”

The androgyny of the ensemble is also supported and encouraged by the producers. Goldberg loves being in such a progressive show that travels across the nation and inspires queer people and tells them it’s okay to be themselves.

It’s a production that Williams didn’t necessarily ever see himself in. He was certainly aware of the material, but when the workshop of the stage version began, he didn’t continue far in the audition process, because he booked another project.

“Fast forward a while and they are having auditions for the tour,” Williams said. “To be completely honest, I was dodging the audition a bit. I imagined they wanted tall buff guys and didn’t want tiny little me. My agent kept telling me they were switching dates for me to make it.”

He eventually reached out, danced for the producers, and was asked to be part of the tour.

Williams has been performing most of his life. Music was a first love, because it seemed to be inherited from generation to generation. He was first in a choir and discovered dance late in college. By the time of his graduation, he realized could do both.

He’s never seen the film version of “Moulin Rouge” from start to finish, but certainly understands its appeal.

“I think we all love love,” he said. “As human beings we are hard-wired to seek and desire love. That is one of the themes of the show — truth, beauty, freedom and love . We also all love a love story. This is pure fantasy. In the musical, we are using pop music songs we all know and love that amplifies and elevates the attractiveness of the show. Those are the things that make the movie and musical so iconic.”

Out artist, chef and Kennesaw State University professor Matthew Terrell will be hosting a free live cooking demo and screening of his series, “Living the Dream” on April 23. As part of the event, Terrell will unveil “Ten Magic Tricks” with patrons that promise to make their lives in the kitchen easier, such as “One Simple Trick to Make Any Seafood Taste Freshly Caught.”

The series, says Terrell, is a celebration of Southern food and the unique stories and traditions that accompany it.

“Moulin Rouge” runs through April 30 at the Fox Theatre.

Matt Terrell’s live cooking demo and screening of “Living the Dream,” April 23 at Dad’s Garage.