An Evening at the Theatre — Parisienne Style
by Jane Rosenstein and Didier Lambert
In these days of fast paced activities, visitors and residents alike can enjoy an evening of theatre in Paris. We enjoyed seeing a delightful comedy,” Occupe Toi de Amélie” (Taking Care of Amelie) and a dark drama “Les Mystères de Paris”
“Occupe Toi D’Amélie” played at Théâtre de Michodière 4 bis rue de la Michodière in the 2nd arrondisement of Paris near the famous Palais Garnier opera house. http://www.michodiere.com/acces.html
Built in 1925, the 800-seat theatre, designed by architect Auguste Bluysen, features a beautiful red and gold Art Deco themed interior design. Bluysen also designed the landmark Le Grand Rex theatre featuring the largest cinema screen in Europe. Le Théâtre Michodière is known for its “boulevard comedies” — a genre that originated years ago in the 20th century when people would go to the theatre for entertainment, long before movies and TVs. The reasonably priced (8 – 44 Euros) comedies usually run for several months/.“Occupe Toi d’Amélie” by George Feydeau, the preeminent French playwright of La Belle Epoque known for his lively farces, was presented in a new version written and directed by Pierre Laville;
When Jacques Baultin, who played Amelie’s father appeared on the stage, he received an ovation from the audience as he is a well known actor
The story is about Amélie who lived her life of joy and laughter doing nothing. She had worked as a maid for the Countesse de Prémily. After quitting her job she called herself Amélie de Avanches and became a mistress of Marcel whose best friend was Etienne de Milledieu.
Etienne ‘s godfather came to visit him and told him l he would give him money if he married. Since Marcel was already having an affair with the “countess,” Marcel suggested that Etienne marry Amélie in a false wedding at the city hall. While plans were being made for the false wedding Amélie received a visit from a prince who wanted to have an affair with her. The audience appeared to be intrigued by events such as the countess coming to see Etienne when Amelie was in his bedroom and also her father coming to the bedroom.
There were many laughs which we enjoyed. We enjoyed great acting and great action. The actors were superb [performance] in giving us a glimpse about life in another era.
At Théâtre Antoine , “Operetta”, a mixture of musical production and theatre, with excerpts from operas from Verdi, Rossini, Bellini, Mozart, Bizet,, Wagner, Saint -Saëns and Offenbach is being performed this summer.. It was nominated for Premois Max espagnols equivalent to the Molières in France. ”Operetta” which promises to be interesting and enjoyable, presents spirited, light-hearted entertainment.
In contrast, “Les Mystères de Paris” was a serious drama about the villians of Paris in the 18th century. The play was perfomed in an unusual theatre, La Tempête, located in the beautiful Bois de Vincennes.
The theatre is subsidized by the French government. In order to get to the theatre we had to follow a pathway at the entrance to the woods. When we arrived, we were surprised to find a large reception area with a snack bar which served delicious food. We enjoyed a salad with goat cheese on toast. There was a lady selling delicious hot herbal tea. Instead of seats we sat on benches in the theatre.
The story is based on a novel of the same name published in “Journal des Débats” by Eugène Sue in 1842. It was adapted by Charlotte Escamez and produced by William Mesguich. It is about the dark grotesque side of Paris, gangsters, and guillotines. The play was produced in vernacular of the era. Even for those who could not understand the language, the play was incredible because of the costumes and the fine performance of the actors and actresses who conveyed the meanings of the actions with intensity.
Rudolphe, a young aristocrat and godfather, disguised himself as a worker to explore the dark side of Paris. The list of colorful characters included Fleure de Marie, an orphan, who had to become a prostitute to survive.
The message of the play was that the dark side of Paris still exists in crime and we have those who are hungry and will resort to selling their bodies and stealing just to survive. The places have changed but the mysteries of Paris live on.
Le Tempête has other interesting plays and is recommended for residents of Paris and tourists to attend for an enjoyable evening of theatre.