A new French version of the Rado-Ragni-MacDermot musical Hair will open in Paris at the Theatre Mogador, March 5 for a two-months run.
The "American Tribal Love-Rock Musical" (as it was billed at its creation) was created on Oct. 29, 1967 at the Joseph Papp New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theatre and had its Broadway opening on April, 29, 1968. Touring companies and foreign productions quickly flourished all over the world. The French one had a cast headed by Julien Clerc who would later become a very famous and popular singer.
Jacques Marouani, producer of the show, told Playbill On-Line that he first wanted to bring Hair to Paris about five years ago. He recalls amusingly that the first French production of Hair was produced by Gilbert Marouani, a cousin of his. So, in a way, Hair in France is some kind of family affair. Last year, Marouani brought a Danish production of Hair at the Theatre Mogador but in an English version. This year, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Broadway creation, Marouani brings back Hair to Mogador, this time in French and with a French cast. The book and lyrics have been newly adapted by Joelle Angeli. Musical arrangements and direction will be made by Francois Dreno. Jacques Rosny will direct the musical.
The obvious question about a production of Hair is to know whether or not performers will be naked on stage at the end of Act I as in the original production and in most of the foreign ones. At the end of the 60's, this display of nudity was considered very provocative and sometimes received negative reactions. On that matter, Marouani says "Nowadays, having naked people on stage doesn't bring anything to the show. I think we can suggest a lot of things: seduction, sensuality, desire, but we don't have to show it."
Asked about his cast, Marouani says "I don't need stars, Hair is the star and this musical has never been performed by stars. The plot is rich and the songs are famous. And I think I have found a company which will bring this musical to life and who have the talent to dance, sing and act." Most of the performers featured in the cast of 18 might be familiar faces and voices to French musical theatre lovers. From Roger Louret's productions of Les Annees Twist and Les Annees Zazous come Isabelle N'Gombo, Catherine Yvorra and Dominique Martinelli. Isabelle Turschwell and Deborah Tanguy have been seen recently in The Little Shop of Horrors. Eric Melville just performed the role of Jean Cocteau in the Pablo Picasso rock opera La vie en bleu. Simon Porter and Vincianne Regattieri have both performed in Barnum and Kiss Me, Kate. Regattieri has also played the role of Stephanie Necrophorus in the recent Folies Bergere production of Nine. Alexandre Bonstein has starred in Cats, Les Miserables, Zazou, Mayflower, Barnum and has been seen more recently in a Swiss production of The Wizard of Oz as the Scarecrow. Emmanuel Dahl did the singing voice of Hercules on the French version of Disney's animated film.
When asked about the future of the French musical theatre and his own future projects, Marouani explains that one should be cautious about what to bring to French audiences. "We must try to provide escape, dream, joy, sadness and entertainment for the audiences. We are here to provide entertainment. We are not here to touch people in their daily miseries and joys, it's useless."
For tickets and information on Hair at the Theatre Mogador, call 331 53 32 32 00. Starts March 3.
-- By Stephane Ly-Cuong