BWW Review: LA BOULE ROUGE at Théâtre Des Variétés
In 1920s Paris, aristocrats, artists, veterans, businessmen, workers, and peasants all gather for drinks and music at The Baron's Tavern. But business is still not good enough for the pair of owners, who plan to close up shop soon and leave the city. Their star singer, and one's former mistress, is sought after by many of the customers, including Charles, a wealthy heir and only child. To help the tavern, whose eclectic clientele is so greatly attached, avoid shutting down and to help her boss seduce the coveted singer, Charles's maid comes up with the idea of transforming it into a big cabaret. But this will require a huge investment. Despite initial resistance from his father, who is reluctant to provide financing, Charles manages to pull the plan off, hiring dancers, musicians, and staff for performances . . . every night.
What we, the audience, see at the lovely Théâtre des Variétés in the charming neighborhood of Montmartre are twenty-one performers, including five musicians, performing jazzy Charlstons as they fill the stage with youthful energy. Their enjoyment as they swing is giddy. The anachronisms of combining the likes of Nina Simone, Claude François, and Jacques Brel in one show is also joyful to experience. What is this "Boule Rouge"?
A sort of French answer to Moulin Rouge, using the same device of trying to integrate familiar but unrelated pop songs into an original story. This show may not have the polish and high production values of that forthcoming Broadway blockbuster but still makes for an entertaining if not always memorable evening.