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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Theatre Thursday: En Français

Most theatre buffs know that the immensely popular and successful musical Les Misérables, featuring such beautiful lyrics as:

"In the rain the pavement shines like silver

All the lights are misty in the river
In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight
And all I see is him and me forever and forever."

was originally in French. Ever since, a watchful eye has been turned toward L'Hexagone for the next colossal hit. Miss Saigon came from the same team as Les Miz, though it opened in England and in English.
My favorite French musical, Notre Dame de Paris, looked poised to be the next French import to Broadway, but the looming rumors of the possibility of Disney mounting a stage production of their own Hunchback of Notre Dame animated film frightened producers away from competing with the Magic Kingdom on the Great White Way. (This is my theory, anyway.) An English version ran in London for about-a-year-and-a-half, and a shortened English version played in Las Vegas, but it's mostly off the radar of American musical-lovers. I like the French version better, personally. I don't follow the lyrics as well, but it just sounds prettier to me.

Belle (Notre-Dame de Paris)
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Incidentally, Dennis De Young - former Styx front man - has his own musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which I also think is quite good, and is also being kept from Broadway by the continuing rumors of a Disney production. (This is also just conjecture on my part.)
So far, the Disney version has only seen a production in Germany as Der Glöckner von Notre Dame. 

The next contender for import from France (in my opinion) may be the popular new musical Le Roi Soleil (The Sun King), based on the life of Louis XIV.
Check out this clip of the first act number "Être à la Hauteur," in which young Louis sings about having to measure up as king.

1 comment:

ali said...

yes, you are correct as to why Dennis' Hunchback never went to NY.

He did run it to rave reviews in Chicago again a few years ago (which sadly I missed) but seems to have given up on it, not even doing it in his concerts anymore.

I would personally argue, however, that there will never be a "next Les Mis" because it is so special and unique that nothing can ever come close to it. But I might be a little biased about that.