If you have seen Baz Lurhman’s “Moulin Rouge” movie, you may already be acquainted with the place and some of the characters who frequented it. But our show is everything Baz did not tell you about Moulin Rouge.

We will introduce you to the real Toulouse-Lautrec who used to frequent the Moulin Rouge and drink and watch the dancers there. We’ll show you his paintings and explain the influence of his works on the beginnings of poster art and advertising in the late 1800’s. We’ll tell you about some of these young women dancers and their life choices. Many bohemians drank to forget the squalor of their lives, and we’ll give you a taste of absinthe, the “green fairy”. (The infamous green liquor destroyed so many lives that most European governments of the time had to outlaw it). And most of all, we will dance for you the real French Cancan to Jacques Offenbach’s original music.

Many “cultural facts” are incorporated into this script. For instance, “la vache enragée” (the “enraged cow”) that the students toast in scene 4 is an expression referring to not eating enough because you’re poor. It is also the title of a famous satirical magazine of the Belle Epoque. In scene 7, the girls’ conversation about absinthe is modeled on descriptions made by Dumas, Oscar Wilde, and others who wrote about the “great collective binge”, as the absinthe epidemic was called. By the same token, some characters do not speak with impeccable grammar only to demonstrate their lack of education. Some characters are fictitious, only invented to give a voice to some of those themes and interact with those who did exist, namely: Toulouse-Lautrec, Zidler, Aristide Bruant, Yvette Guilbert, Jane Avril, La Goulue and a few of the dancers.

As to the paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec, they are presented in the “cultural” slide shows that dot the play. Please refer to the photo Gallery to see how we tried to replicate some of Toulouse-Lautrec’s paintings through the use of costumes and props. In the slide show, a picture of the real subject follows the picture of our actor.

Now prepare yourselves for a journey into the bohemian world of Montmartre, where the wretched and the pleasure-seekers meet.

Welcome to the Red Wind Mill. Welcome to Moulin Rouge!


The participants are not only current and former students of French at ACC, but also members of Austin’s French community (through Austin Accueil and the Alliance Française) including a UT professor of architecture, a police officer, and three high school students.

Avec par ordre alphabétique:
Francisco Arumi – Aristide Bruant
Whitney Ballou – Marie (danseuse)
Akasha Banks – Yvette Guilbert
Ashleigh Marie Barcuch – La Môme Fromage (danseuse)
Kimi Beckham – at the lights
Charlette Beillon – Madame Zoriga
Isabelle Courty-Bettler – Jane Avril (danseuse)
Shelley Doggétt – la Goulue (danseuse)
Christian Garner – Zidler
U. R. Sarah Hoque – at the computer
Christian Ljungqvist – Toulouse-Lautrec
Véronique Mazet – author & director
Stephen G. Nichols – student/stage manager/patron
Luisa Saldamando – Rigolette (danseuse)
Marie Thatcher – Nini-pattes-en -l’air (danseuse)
Philippe Verain – art student
Zac – Marcel

Students Speak

Whitney Ballou (Round Rock High School)
“I heard about the production through a friend that has a sister that goes to ACC”

Ashleigh Marie Barcuch studies French at Round Rock High School
Heard about the play through a fellow Dragonett’s sister

“I originally heard about the French productions through my French II class. I have participated every year since.” Akasha Bank

Isabelle Courty-Bettler. French. heard about it via Austin Accueil.

Luisa Saldamando studies French at the Alliance Française-level: Advance Conversation. Heard about the production through Elizabeth Joffrain from Austin Accueil.

Christian Garner is a systems engineer for Sprint. He encountered French cultural theater while taking French classes, and was first introduced to acting last Spring while playing multiple parts in “Femmes, femmes, femmes”. Since then, he has found a love for acting and aspires to do more of it in the future.

Shelley Doggett, is a journalism major at UT and in her 3rd semester of French.

Stephen G. Nichols Was conned into this production with promises that he would only run the computer. Eventually ended up with several parts — the compounding lies sounded so much sweeter in French — and has enjoyed every single day of it. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.


Stars of the Moulin Rouge
The Story Behind the Poster
The Moulin Rouge And The Times
Le Cancan
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec