No Gondolas for Denise

© 2010 Les Caramels Fous, used courtesy of the company

Most of you know that I’m married to an amateur singer and dancer. Michel has been a member of a musical theater troupe here in Paris called Les Caramels Fous (“The Crazy Caramels”) for about four years. While they may not be a professional company, let me assure you that the musicals performed by this thirty-year-old all-male, all-gay troupe are anything but amateur. When I first met Michel in April 2009, he was getting ready for the premiere of the Caramels’ musical Madame Mouchabeurre (“Mrs. Butter-Fly”), a comic retelling of the opera Madama Butterfly set in Brittany in the 1950s and 1970s. Michel played several roles, including a Breton woman wearing an outfit from the ’50s, a Breton man in traditional costume, a French sailor, and an American paratrooper. Madame Mouchabeurre had three highly successful runs here in Paris in June 2009, October/November 2009, and June/July 2010, the Caramels playing three performances a week to packed houses for three- or four-week stints each time. Starting in November 2010, the Caramels took Madame Mouchabeurre on the road for several more performances all around France: Charleville-Mézières (Ardennes), Nantes, Fréjus, Merignac (Bordeaux), Blagnac (Toulouse), La Baule, and Nice, before returning to Paris for another performance at Puteaux last December.

© 2012 Les Caramels Fous, used courtesy of the company

Last night, the Caramels premiered their new musical, Pas de Gondoles pour Denise (“No Gondolas for Denise”), which had been in planning for over a year. In classic Caramel fashion, Denise features a musical score set to the melodies of popular songs, both French and international hits, including “Les brunes comptent pas pour des prunes” by Lio, “I Want to Break Free” by Queen, and “Waterloo” by ABBA. This time around, though — thanks to the vision of their new choreographer — the musical features impressive dance routines that can only be described as powerfully athletic: a dance on a desktop in stiletto heels to the tune of Britney Spears’s “Womanizer,” a rendition of “Cellblock Tango” from the musical Chicago using movable prison doors, and harem revolt featuring a Maori Haka-inspired dance. I, of course, was most proud of Michel’s performances; for the first time on stage with the Caramels, he sang a solo. It was set to the tune of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and he killed it! And to the rest of the company, let me just say, as you say here in France:

Chapeau, madame et messieurs ! Chapeau !

I’ve been publicizing Pas de Gondoles pour Denise all over Facebook today, so I figured, why not plug it on my blog as well? Adapted from their own synopsis, so as not to give away too much, here’s a glimpse into what Denise promises:

“An airport, the set of a television show, a bed, a public park, a beauty salon, the back office of an investment bank, the Internet, a café next to La Madeleine, a police station, a hammam, a palace, a quay along the Seine, a church, the Rome Métro station?

So many places where a host of characters cross paths in search of love: a sexually frustrated masseuse, a timid gay guy, a business woman without scruples, a TV star who’s losing steam, a young office cut-throat, a libidinous playboy, a waiter at a café, a hopelessly romantic esthetician, an improbable transsexual, two indolent cops, Village People lookalikes, an aging Jew, a young priest, a closeted emir, a homeless illegal alien … and then, Denise, a lesbian with a big heart, who spends her life with a duster, a broom, and a mop in the eternal battle against dirt. All of these characters will end up meeting and — perhaps — falling in love; some will even get married, but NONE of them will honeymoon in Venice … certainly NOT Denise!”

A fun and ultimately uplifting story told with powerful vocals and impressive choreography, Denise is, quite simply, an energetic and engaging experience that will keep you laughing, clapping, singing, and swaying in your seats from beginning to end … right up to the point where they drop the traditional pink, white, and black balloons from the ceiling during your standing ovation.

And here’s the band annonce :

As I’ve been advising everyone on Facebook, if you’re in Paris or can get here easily, RUN — do not walk — to see Pas de Gondoles pour Denise. Les Caramels Fous will not disappoint you … even if your French is as bad as mine!

Pas de Gondoles pour Denise
is running through June 23, 2012
every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:30 pm

Due to popular demand, Les Caramels Fous will be returning to the stage for the reprise of “Denise”
September 27 through 29, 2012

On the heels of their tour of France, Les Caramels Fous appear on the
Paris stage 
for the final performances of “Denise”
June 13 through 22, 2013

Théâtre du Gymnase Marie Bell
38 boulevard de Bonne Nouvelle
75010 Paris

Reserve your tickets by calling the box office at 01 42 46 79 79
or by visiting the theater’s website.

Now on Tour!
See the site for more details.

© 2012 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

2 thoughts on “No Gondolas for Denise

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