Paris, February 2010—I get a thrill whenever I walk into the Folies Bergères, past its Art Deco façade and into its kitsch lobby that looks like something out of Dr. Seuss. Then to the seating at the first balcony that still has the old iron, wood, and velour feel of an authentic Paris music hall—preferably to the privileged box seats, front row. Or better still, to the higher comfort of the orchestra seating where, before the show starts, it’s easy to imagine that I’m awaiting the arrival of Josephine Baker or Mistinguett or Maurice Chevalier.
Instead, Zorro arrived (though June 30, 2010).
Zorro is the stuff of dreams. He spends less time in the gym than Superman, he’s less closeted than Batman, he’s more seductive than Robin Hood. He’s got wit, he’s got talent. He’s lived in California, he’s live in Spain. He speaks both English and Spanish, and now he speaks French too!
Too bad he was doing all that while confined to Zorro, Le Musical.
Zorro, in this incarnation inspired by a novel by Isabel Allende, is seeking his path in life, feeling that he can’t live up to his father’s hopes to turn him into a leader. He gets kicked out of military school for being footloose despite his talents with a sword, makes friends with gypsies, takes on the persona of Zorro, rescues the poor people of California from repression, returns to Spain with his gypsy friends, meets up with his childhood girlfriend, discovers that his older brother is a tyrant who has deposed their father (apparently the older brother became a tyrant to get back at Zorro for being his father’s favorite). Zorro with the slashing Z to the rescue.
I wasn’t sure whether I was going to write about Zorro, Le Musical since I would only do so if I found it more or less recommendable. Allow me to explain my mixed feeling:
Music: one thumb up for the dancing and the Gypsy Kings’ gypsy and flamenco music, one thumb down for the Gypsy Kings’ other songs.
Staging: one thumb up for use of the theater, one thumb down for being so cartoonish.
Singing: One thumb up for the voices, one thumb down because nothing can be done to help those other Gypsy Kings songs.
Storyline: One thumb up (for visiting English-speakers) because it’s simple enough to understand it in French; one larger thumb down because Zorro deserves a better vehicle than this is a psychodrama without .
The theater: two thumbs up for the Folies Bergère.
Two months after it opened I was still hesitant or perhaps lazy, but then I attended the press opening for Roméo & Juliette, a French musical showing at the Palais des Congres until April 4, and that show was so dreadful—from concept to music to décor (admittedly I only saw the first half before quitting the theater)—that I realized that Zorro, the Musical did make for a decent evening of family entertainment in Paris.
* * *
Musicals in Paris
Zorro, Le Musical at the Folies Bergère until June 30, 2010. Another thumb up on pricing since tickets are currently available at two for the price of one. Inquire about 2 for 1 possibilities when reserving.
Roméo et Juliette at the Palais des Congrès until April 4, 2010.
Le Roi Lion (The Lion King) at the Théâtre Mogador until July 25, 2010.
Violin sur le Toit (Fiddler on the Roof) at Le Palace until July 31, 2010.
Coming in spring: Les Misérables at Théâtre du Châtelet May 26-July 4, 2010.
© 2010, Gary Lee Kraut