Polk’s Karen Olivo Dazzles Critics in Broadway’s ‘Moulin Rouge’

Polk-raised Karen Olivo impressed New York critics in her lead role of Satine  in the just-opened Broadway production of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.” Take, for example, The New York Times’ co-chief theater critic Ben Brantley.

Olivo rated a mention in his review‘s sub-headline: “Forbidden pleasures abound in this spectacular musical, starring a dazzling Karen Olivo as a doomed Parisian chanteuse.” Subsequent mentions:

  • “…“Moulin Rouge” — which stars a knockout Karen Olivo, with Aaron Tveit and Danny Burstein doing their best Broadway work to date…”
  • “Ms. Olivo, in a performance that sends her into the constellation of great musical actresses, gives us a figure of palpable flesh …”
  • “When Ms. Olivo’s Satine, which has acquired even greater depth and polish since I saw this show in Boston a year ago, sings “Diamonds Are Forever,” “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Material Girl” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” — all in one number — she’s a delicious compound of artifice and ardor. Like the show itself, she skillfully walks a tightrope between archness and sincerity, sophistication and gee-whiz wonder, without ever stumbling.”
  • “When Ms. Olivo sings the Katy Perry chart-topper “Firework” or Mr. Tveit does Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” it’s with an uncompromising, personal passion.”

Even critics who disliked the production praised Olivo and the rest of the cast. (AMNew York headlined its 1½-star review, “Great cast and dazzling set can’t save this Broadway botch job.”) Check a roundup of reviews from Broadway World.

Olivo, a 42-year-old graduate of Harrison School of the Arts in Lakeland, won a 2009 Tony Award for best featured actress in a musical as Anita in a revival of “West Side Story.” She also originated the role of Vanessa in “In the Heights” and preformed the role of Angelica Scuyler in the Chicago production of “Hamilton.”

Her father, Rick Olivo, is a visual artist and teacher in Lakeland.

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