On Friday, May 8th I had the pleasure to attend the play “Mistinguett” Reine des Années Folles (Queen of the Crazy Years) at Le Comedia Theatre in Paris. Le Comedia is an architecturally distinctive theatre with 750 seats. A special section of the house was reserved to accommodate over 50 people at tables so that they can enjoy beverages and delicious cheese plates and French coldcuts prepared by Fouquet’s, the famous Parisian caterer, before the curtain rises and during intermission.
The original Mistiguette, Jeanne Bourgeois , was the featured performer in the production of this musical comedy Mustiguette at this theatre when it opened in 1858 before she appeared in its production at the Casino de Paris . Mistinguette, Jeanne Bourgeois, was born on April 3, 1875 in Enghien-les Bains, France and died on January 5, 1956 in Bougival, France. She came from a poor family and became a famous chanteuse (singer) (akin to Josephine Baker) who toured internationally. Her repertoire of songs included¨Je Cherche un Millionaire¨,¨Mon Homme¨and¨C’est Paris.”
Mistinguett Reine des Anées Folles (Queen of Crazy Years), currently playing at Le Comedia. is a “music hall” comedy about the Roaring 20s. Mistaguett, the lead character wants to perform a Music Hall show at Casino de Paris. There is friction for those who seek to produce the show. The show itself is colorful because of the 20s style fashion with sequined dresses and feathers for the ladies and sometimes tuxedos and typical hats for the men.
From the fist moment Mistiguett appears and throughout the play, she sings with intensity and charm. The costumes in the roaring 20s styles are spectacular. There are 6 musicians playing about 15 tracks. The music from the accordians, trumpets and other instruments is intense, emotinal and swing..
The scenes changes frequently and can best described as captivating vignettes. My colleague and I watched a watched a backstage scene during rehearsals and a scene at a billards room. Another scene featured La Coupole a celebrated French brasseriie/restaurant that continues to delight customers with wonderful food and ornate décor.
Over 100,000 people saw Mistinguett Reine des Années Folles produced by Albert Cohen at the Casino de Paris this winter where it played from 1918-1925. The new season is now at the Le Comedia theatre until January 3, 2016.
The cast of Mistingett:
Carmen Maria Vega (in the role of Mistingett)
Every moment she sings is extraordinary. Since 2014 she has portrayed the character with charismatic charm and style
Patrice Maktav (in the role of Léon Volterra)
He could not read or write but sold programs in theatres before deciding to invest in the production of Mistinguett.
Cyril Romoli (in the role of Jacques Charles)
He is either Mistinguett’s best friend or worst enemy.
Fabian Richard (in the role Scipion le Voyou, a thug)
He starred in Follies Bergere, Olympia, Casino de Paris and Palais de Sports
He wants to undermine the ambition of Léon Voltarra and take his place.
Mathilde Olivier (in the role of Marie)
Her brother Scorpion introduced her to Mistinguett to get her a job as a singer in the show.
Gregory Benchenafi (in the role of Harry Pilcer)
Originally from New York, he worked in tap dancing and jazz
He later became a partner with Mistinguett.
My rating for this play is 5 stars out of 5 . From the opening scene until the closing scene we were entertained with 20s style entertainment. The cast of this production performed like dedicated singers and dancers with plenty of panache and exuberance. There were always interesting things happening on stage to keep us constantly entertained.
To those who are coming to Paris, I would suggest reserving seats for Mistinguett.
Jane Rosenstein is a U.S. citizen living in Paris, France. She is a professional translator/interpreter. She is the owner of The International Connection which does international marketing consultation including sales of wine, interpretation, and translation.
She enjoys the cultural life that living in Paris offers and has talents in organizing events. She speaks English, French, and Spanish. She has a B.S. degree in mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.B.A. degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA.