Review: GENE KELLY SUR LA 42ÈME RUE at Radio De La Musique

This is the fifth edition of "42ème rue fait son show !"

By: Jan. 14, 2023
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For the 5th edition of 42ème rue fait son show, Laurent Valière chose to pay tribute to the most famous American in Paris, Gene Kelly, creator and star of Singing in the Rain, by far the best loved musical movie of cinematic history. With his widow Patricia Ward Kelly as guest of honor, this 2-hour long stage tribute directed by Agnes Boury was broadcast live on France Musique, YouTube, and Facebook Live, where various singers and dancers were accompanied by the 42nd Street Orchestra conducted by musical directors Thierry Boulanger and Patrice Peyrieras.

As his Patricia Ward reminded us, Gene Kelly was specific in his instructions about how he wished to be remembered: don't imitate me, take what I did and go beyond. On the stage of La Maison de la Radio on the 19th of December could be found a roster of young talents celebrating Kelly's life and career, each and every one of them inspired by and going beyond the master in a different, unique way.

The tribute began with "La Chanson d'Andy" from Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, sung by Liam Forde, another American in love with Paris, while Melissa Linton and Léo Maindron danced a romantic pas-de-deux choreographed by Maindron himself, reminiscent of the Jacques Demy movie, in which the Kelly appeared for the last time. It was followed by a new version of "Good Morning" from Singing in the Rain, this time with two girls and one boy-including Eva Tesiorowsk, tap choreographer of The Producers (currently playing in Paris), who also put the number together-and "Almost Like Being in Love", a duet performed by Marie Oppert and famous French actor and musical theater aficionado Lambert Wilson from Kelly's lesser known movie version of the Lerner and Loewe musical Brigadoon.

Mareva Poaty later did "I Like Myself", a great song from another of Kelly's neglected masterpieces, It's Always Fair Weather, giving the promising young tap dancer Alexis Thomas-Szlachta-who, much more than just a Gene Kelly look alike, truly channels the legend's debonaire elegance and ever-smiling radiance-a chance to display some real talent before his show-stopping solo towards the end of the show.

Further tributes included a medley of "It's Wonderful" from An American in Paris and "Be a Clown" from The Pirate, sung by the French children's choir Sotto Voce; a new version of "I've Got Rhythm", delivered by students of Edouard Thiebaut, who is currently playing in Don Lockwood in the Belgian tour of Singing in the Rain, choreographed by Cécile Chaduteau, and arranged by Shay Alone, composer of the French musical Oliver Twist; "All I Do Is Dream of You", sung by Marie Perbost; and a new version, staged by Guillaume Beaujolais and Florian Tzotzis, of "Make 'Em Laugh", showcasing Bastien Monier

Finishing the evening was a personal jazz rendition of the title song from Singing in the Rain by the talented Oppert. Of course, as every year, there were some excerpts from forthcoming musicals as well, such as those from Al Capone with Roberto Alagna, opening this month at the Folies Bergères; a first French version of Hamilton, by the student of Cours Florent's amazing Musical Theater Department; and a brand-new 20-minute musical featuring a parrot called Gene Kelly with a book by Blandine Rinkel and music by Pierō.

Always one to encourage the creation of new work, Gene Kelly would have been proud of such an evening. Thank you Laurent Valière for producing and organizing such a deserved and star-studded tribute to the immortal American in Paris, celebrating his love affair with the French capital.


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