This season, French audiences will have a little taste of Broadway... in the language of Molière. From Mamma Mia! to Avenue Q, all of the following musicals will be performed in French (except for Harlem Swing and The Sound of Music, which will be performed in English). One thing is certain, over the last decade, French theatregoers have been slowly opening up to Broadway musicals.
The hit musical based on ABBA's songs is entering its second season after a short summer break. Sophie Delmas and Jérôme Pradon (Laurence Olivier nominee for Pacific Overtures) star as Donna Sheridan and Sam Carmichael. Mamma Mia! will resume performances at Théâtre Mogador Sept. 30. Visit www.mamma-mia.fr for more information.
The Kander and Ebb classic, in its Sam Mendes staging, met with great success in 2006-2008 at Paris' Folies Bergere. This time, the production will play the Théâtre Marigny with most of the original leads, except for the Emcee, who will now be portrayed by Emmanuel Moire (former star of the French musical Le Roi Soleil). Claire Pérot stars as Sally Bowles. Cabaret will play at Théâtre Marigny Oct. 6-Dec. 31. Visit www.cabaret-lemusical.fr for more information.
The Mel Brooks musical, based on his eponymous 1974 movie, will have its French premiere this fall (as Frankenstein Jr.). This production is directed by Ned Grujic and stars Vincent Heden as Frederick Frankenstein. Young Frankenstein will play Théâtre Dejazet Oct. 14-Nov. 27. Visit www.dejazet.com for more information.
Known as Ain't Misbehavin when it opened on Broadway in 1978, this Tony Award-winning revue based on the songs of Fats Waller is currently touring Europe and will stop at the famous Folies Bergère for a limited run. Cast includes Broadway and West End veteran Milton Craig Nealy (Dreamgirls; Once On This Island; Miss Saigon; Caroline, Or Change). The show is performed in English. Harlem Swing will play at the Folies Bergère from Oct. 18-30. Visit www.foliesbergere.com for more information.
The Sound of Music
The critically acclaimed Theatre du Châtelet's production of The Sound of Music returns to Paris for the Christmas season. Directed by Emilio Sagi, it stars Katherine Manley as Maria and William Dazeley as Captain Von Trapp. The show is performed in English with French subtitles. The Sound of Music will play at Théâtre du Châtelet from Dec. 7, 2011-Jan. 1, 2012. Visit www.chatelet-theatre.com for more information.
The French version of the hit musical by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, Thomas Meehan and Mark O'Donnell premiered at the Casino de Paris last April then transferred to Bobino for a one-month run. It will find another home this winter at the Espace Cardin. This production is directed by Ned Grujic and stars Franck Vincent (Fiddler On The Roof) as Edna Turnblad. Hairspray will play Espace Cardin Dec. 22, 2011-Jan. 8, 2012.
Shrek The Musical
The musical based on the Dreamworks film (which is currently running in London) will have its French premiere in 2012. This show will be the third production by Italian-based LV Productions this season (along with Young Frankenstein and Hairspray). Shrek The Musical will play Casino de Paris beginning Feb. 8, 2012. Visit www.casinodeparis.fr for more information.
This winter, Avenue Q will be located on the left bank of the Seine! The furry characters of the Jeff Whitty-Robert Lopez-Jeff Marx musical will look for their "Purpose" and wonder what to do do "with a BA in English" ... in French, in a production directed by Dominique Guillo. Avenue Q will play Bobino beginning Feb. 2, 2012. Visit www.avenueq.fr for more information.
Elegies For Angels, Punks and Raging Queens
The song cycle written by Janet Hood and Bill Russell (Side Show), which opened in New York in 1989, will have its French premiere in spring 2012. Inspired by the AIDS Memorial Quilt, Elegies will be directed by Gael Colin and will feature a cast of 12. Elegies pour les anges, les punks et les folles perdues will play Théâtre du Ranelagh March 22-June 2, 2012. Visit www.theatre-ranelagh.com for more information.
Stéphane Ly-Cuong is a Paris-based freelance writer and director (firstname.lastname@example.org).