Food & Culture

Alinta Chidzey: "Moulin Rouge! is the perfect show to come at this time"

The star of the Australian production of the Tony Award-winning musical on abalone-diving, motherhood and her very own meet-cute.

By Georgie Meredith
Alinta Chidzey, star of Moulin Rouge! The Musical which is set to premiere in Melbourne later this year.
I grew up in Brunswick in Melbourne. It was such a great place to grow up because there was so much multicultural inspiration around food and there were so many choices when eating out. There's a lot of Italian and Greeks living in the area, which had a big impact on the restaurants and the vibe. I also loved living there because it was so close to the city, which is where I went to school – the Victorian College of the Arts.
My mother is Singaporean. I grew up with a lot of Asian cuisine. We'd cook things like chilli crab and have these amazing dinner parties with steamboats, which is kind of like hotpot in a way; lots of different raw meats and vegetables and then you use a chicken broth to dip everything into. It's just delicious. My dad and I used to go diving for abalone, too. We'd use it to make a Singaporean dish that my grandmother created from abalone, chicken and asparagus – it was kind of like a stir-fry.
Because of COVID we had to audition for Moulin Rouge! via video tape. And then I fell pregnant during that year. So by the time I got into the room to do a live audition I was 37 weeks pregnant, which was very challenging.
My husband is Dutch. I met him when I was backpacking through Europe. I literally just walked into him on the street, it couldn't have been more serendipitous. He's a musician and he'd been playing a concert. I walked to this main square where the concert was happening and went up to a stranger to ask what was going on. They were like, "Oh, my friend is playing in this concert," and then introduced me to him. And then he asked me for a drink and I said, "Sure!"
He's been adoringly making food for me. We have a favourite restaurant in Sydney called Spice I Am. I bought him their cookbook and he's cooked about 80 per cent of it. He cooks all our favourite dishes from there. I'm a massive fan of Thai food, but I also love Italian food. I guess how you also go for a green curry on a Thai menu, I always go for the vongole on an Italian menu. I had the most spectacular vongole when I was in Sicily. I'm a big fan of seafood so that's my go-to.
I've toured a lot around Asia and Australia, but I really love performing at Hamer Hall in Melbourne. The acoustics are so amazing – you can hear a pin drop. I also performed with Hugh Jackman at Rod Laver Arena and that is such a vibe, with however many thousands of people there.
What's amazing about Paris is that it really does celebrate the arts. I think the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou are such places of creation that celebrate the arts in every capacity, whether it's dance, music, film or fine arts. Another fantastic European city is Amsterdam. I lived there when I was working on Dirty Dancing which was an incredible opportunity.
Moulin Rouge! is the perfect show to come at this time. Audiences are hungry for live theatre and connection. Moulin Rouge! is everything – it's spectacular and extravagant. It's escapism from this crazy world we're living in right now and celebrates love and freedom. It's such a wonderful, uplifting spectacle.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical will open at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne in November. Tickets are on sale now.