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Grease is le mot in first Paris staging of US musical

Article published on the 2008-10-18 Latest update 2008-12-11 15:05 TU

(Poster: Theatre Comedia)

(Poster: Theatre Comedia)

More than 30 years after its first performance, the hit musical Grease comes to Paris. Danny, Sandy and Rizzo take to the stage at the Théatre Comédia for a nostalgia trip back to the rock-and-roll years of the 1950s.

Culture: Grease on the Paris stage

19/10/2008 by Judith Prescott

It's hard to imagine that the hit musical Grease started life in a small, experimental theatre in Chicago at the start of the 1970s.

From such humble beginnings, the show went on to become a huge  success on Broadway. In 1978 it became a film, starring John Travolta as Danny leader of the T-birds and Olivia Newton John in the role of the sweet and innocent Sandra Dee.

Songs such as 'Summer Love' and 'You're the one that I want' went on to become international hits selling millions of copies worldwide.

The show is now in Paris at the Théatre Comédia in the capital's tenth arrondissement, hoping to win over French audiences who are not familiar with stage musicals in a style they would define as "Anglo-Saxon".

French musical productions tend to be lavish, highly-produced and heavily-marketed shows like Les Miserables, Notre Dame de Paris or the upcoming Cleopatra.

Nuno Resende plays Roger one of the members of the T-birds. He believes French audiences are becoming more comfortable with this type of musical productions.

"We already have some artists who can do everything such as playing a role, singing and dancing," he says. "It's true here in France we have more concerts and concerts with themes, so people come to see musical shows but not in the same tradition as in London. But I hope we're going in a new direction".

Amélie Munier is no stranger to stage musicals. She has worked in London doing a four-year stint in Chicago and has had roles in both Cats and Cabaret.

She plays Rizzo in this production, the tough, street-wise foil to the sweet and innocent Sandra Dee.

As one of the show's edgier characters, she is a sharp reminder that teenage years are not always about having a good time. But essentially, says Munier, the show is pure, lighthearted fun.

She is confident Grease will attract audiences because it provides an escape from the problems of everday life.

"I think people need to be entertained," she says. "Everyday when you look around in the street or in the news everything is so dull and unhappy. Grease is a very happy story and people need anything that makes them feel happy."

Both the stage musical and the film enjoyed huge success back in the 1970s but maybe today's audiences are more sophisticated and will be less enthusiastic.

One of the attractions are pop classics, such as 'Grease Lightning', 'Summer Love' and 'You're the one that I want".

"People have grown up with these songs," says Resende, who feels audiences will also identify with the characters. "It's all about teenagers and teenage problems, so it's still up-to-date. We've all been through teenage years, so we all recognise ourselves in these characters."

From the opening bars of 'Grease Lightning' to the grand finale of 'You're the one that I want', Resende was proved right at Friday evening's performance.

The audience cheered wildly, applauding each song and giving the cast a well-deserved standing ovation.

It's not Broadway or London Theatreland yet, but for this particular audience "Grease is the word".

Grease runs at the Théâtre Comédia until the end of January 2009


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