Putting aside my recent frustration at the post office and the continuing saga of my immigration headache, I’m having a fairly entertaining couple of weeks hanging out in Paris theaters. Tomorrow night, Michel‘s musical theater troupe returns to the stage with their September reprise of Pas de Gondoles pour Denise. I’m obviously partial, but this amateur troupe’s latest production is, quite simply, top-notch fun … and the Paris theater critics agree. A fun and uplifting tale about the search for love, the story of Denise unfolds on stage through powerful vocals and impressive choreography, with a musical score set to the melodies of popular songs. I’ll be there Friday night (with friends) and Saturday night (with Michel’s family) for my third and fourth times seeing the show.
As much as I’d like to encourage you to come out and see Denise, there won’t be any available seats for the September shows by the time you read this. They will go on tour around France, though, in the coming months, so stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, how about this:
That’s right! Sister Act … the Musical … in French!
First of all, let me just say how cool it is to know “theater people.” Michel has a good number of friends in the dramatic arts, especially in the musical theater world of Paris. And last Tuesday afternoon, he got a text message from one of those friends asking him to call her AS SOON AS HE GOT THE MESSAGE! As alarming as that might sound, there was no emergency, no tragedy, just the offer of two free tickets to that evening’s avant-première of Sister Act.
See? Not only does knowing theater people mean you get to hang out with fabulous Broadway types, it also means you can sometimes get free tickets to sold-out shows!
Michel already knew that this particular friend was performing in Sister Act, but it just so happened that his best friend Yoni Amar was also going to be standing in that evening in a major role: Eddie, the police chief. Little did we know at the time, Yoni wasn’t even the understudy for that role, and he found out just that afternoon that the director needed him to play the part. You wouldn’t have known it from the performance he gave, though. From the moment he walked out on stage, he owned that role. I remember turning to Michel and whispering, “Damn, Yoni can sing!” So, let me say once again, “Bravo Yoni! Chapeau bas!”
I had never seen the musical version of the hit 1992 film and I hadn’t watched the film in years, but I remembered the story well enough to follow the musical … which was a good thing, given that it was in French and all. I’ll be honest, despite semester upon semester of French courses (including a seminar on French poetry and song), I still haven’t mastered the art of understanding the French language when it’s belted out to music.
Dialogue? Not so hard.
Something set to a guitar riff? A bit trickier.
Even if I didn’t understand every word they sang last Tuesday night, I can tell you that the music in Sister Act is superb. Kania, a young singer from Québec, assumes Whoopi Goldberg’s iconic role of Deloris Van Cartier (a.k.a., Sister Mary Clarence … ahem, Sœur Marie Clarence) and delivers it with passion and finesse. Finalist in the 2011 season of France’s X Factor, Sarah Manesse offers a delightful rendition of the role of Sister Mary Robert, and Lola Ces’s Sister Mary Patrick is almost as adorable as Kathy Najimy was in the film. Frankly, the entire cast are exceptional artists, whether it’s Deloris’s nightclub backup singers (including Michel’s friend Léovanie Raud, who sent us that text) or the sisters in the choir (including Valériane de Villeneuve as Sister Mary Lazarus), the Mother Superior (Carmen Ferian) and the Monsignor (Christian Bujeau), or Curtis Jackson (Barry Johnson) and his gang (Keny Bran Ourega as TJ, Michel’s friend Franck Vincent as Joey, and David Sollazzo as Pablo). They all just make you laugh out loud and sing right along with them (or at least want to, if you’re like me and you don’t know any of the French lyrics except for “Moi, j’suis fabuleuse, baby!“).
Here are a couple of promotional clips, just in case you still need motivation to go online and reserve a seat. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photos or videos during Tuesday night’s performance, but these will give you the general idea:
The official trailer, featuring “Fabuleuse, baby”
(It features some actors that aren’t in the current performance.)
A performance of “Suis ta voix” on the French television show Vivement Dimanche
Another performance of “Suis ta voix” on Regarde en Coulisse
So yes, it’s very cool to know theater people. It’s just too bad, though, that Yoni didn’t get that call from the director on Thursday afternoon … when Whoopi Goldberg herself was in the house for opening night! Maybe next time, Yoni?
Sister Act is at the Théâtre Mogador through March 31, 2013, with shows every day except Monday. Reserve your tickets today and …
Be fabulous, baby!
© 2012 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved