Review: 42ÈME RUE FAIT SON SHOW! at Maison De La Radio

A Regular Celebration of Musical Theater in Paris by Laurent Valière

By: Feb. 17, 2024
Review: 42ÈME RUE FAIT SON SHOW! at Maison De La Radio
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The 6th edition of Laurent Valière’s 42ème rue fait son show! was a star-studded affair, starting with a full orchestra conducted by Patrice Peyriéras, treating us to Cy Coleman’s entire City of Angels overture, actually the theme song for this weekly musical theater radio broadcast on France Musique.  Marina Pangos then took center stage with the title song from The Sound of Music, in which she just starred on tour.  The timeless melody of Richard Rodgers, with its heartfelt lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, resonated with the audience, evoking nostalgia and joy, Thierry Boulanger’s orchestration complementing the enchanting vocals.  Other performances from Broadway musicals currently playing in Paris were “I’m Calm” from the wonderful Jean-Luc Choplin production of Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Lido, spiritedly delivered by Andrew Pepper, and “Robbin’s Song” with Ludovic Thiévon, from the excellent new French adaptation of Spamalot by Pierre-François Martin-Laval at Théatre de Paris.

Other welcome editions from the traditional Broadway style were “Souvenir Tendre” (“Try to Remember”) from The Fantasticks, off-Broadway's longest running musical, emotionally delivered by Bruno Khouri, and “Put the Blame on Mame” from the movie Gilda, featuring Judith Chemla, with a special new arrangement from Theirry Boulanger, but the icing on the cake was the final number of the whole show, Jerry Herman’s “Tap Your Trouble Away” from Mack and Mabel, sung by the great Emma-Kate Nelson, who also the showstopping tap-dancing number with a perfectly drilled dancing ensemble. 

With his heart on Broadway, just like mine, Valière also supports new French talents and  original French musicals, such as the forthcoming Zazie dans le Métro and Samartland by Mélody Mourey and Simon Meuret. As Valière correctly puts it, we are in “a new golden age for musical theater in France.”  He goes on to explain: 

In 1998, the success of Notre Dame de Paris led to the creation of numerous musical shows, from The Ten Commandments to Mozart: The Rock Opera. 25 years later, the success of Starmania has resulted in a record number of musical comedies being staged in France this season. These range from the triumphant return of West Side Story to Molière The Musical

Over these 25 years, the landscape has changed. The pool of artists skilled in acting, singing, and dancing has expanded significantly due to the establishment of new training programs. Notably, the Cours Florent’s Free Musical Comedy Class.  Additionally, artistic boundaries have blurred: conductors, directors, and actors like Thomas Jolly, Maxime Pascal, and Judith Chemla seamlessly transition between genres—from Stockhausen to The Little Shop of Horrors, from Macbeth Underworld to Starmania

This evening, conceived six years ago, serves as a window into these talents, actors, and creators of musical theater. It’s a fireworks display that combines Broadway classics with new French creations. This year, you’ll discover Le Chat du Rabbin adapted into a musical, Zazie dans le Métro presented by Zabou Breitman in a preview, and Justine Heynemann sharing the story of a female punk group. 

There’s also a live monthly broadcast, the last one having been on February 18th, which featured the cast of Zazie dans le Métro and the cast from the first European tour of Kander and Ebb’s Woman of the Year, directed by Jean Lacornerie.