Post by kerouac2 on Mar 31, 2018 17:52:23 GMT
Théâtre Mogador is the largest private theatre in Paris with 1600 seats. It was created with 2000 seats, but the norms of comfort have changed over the years. It was built by a British theatre mogul who had a performing French girlfriend. In the end, her career fizzled for for the grand opening around 1919, they called in Maurice Chevalier. Nevertheless, the theatre has had a difficult career over the years, because there are not many huge theatres in northern Paris, and this was situated at midpoint between the Opéra Garnier and the Folies Bergère, so it needed to find the appropriate niche. Opera on one side and sexy vaudeville on the other, so it decided to go for operetta. One of its first successful shows was the French version of No, No, Nanette (still remembered for one song: tea for two and two for tea...). It struggled over the years and was even a cinema for a certain time. Then it became the secondary venue for the giant operettas put on at the Théâtre du Châtelet. Once they left that stage, they moved to Mogador for awhile.
Of course the main problem is that the French lost interest in operettas and when musical comedies replaced them, they were totally allergic to them. Frankly, I have been to Mogador only once in my life -- I went to see Sting in a concert there in the 1980's. And then the magical turnaround finally took place. The French finally started liking musical plays -- first their own, like the original version of Les Misérables (extremely different from the show that conquered the world but with a lot of the same music), but also quite a few others performed in giant sports arenas and other huge places with at least 5000 spectators a night
That's when the media giant Endemol came to town. It is mostly known for game show concepts around the world, such as Big Brother, Fear Factor and all sorts of other crap. It is also the current owner of the Miss France beauty pageant. Anyway, they brought musical comedies to France and Mogador is now their theatre. Lion King played for three years, but also Cats, Mamma Mia and many things in a similar vein. Two years ago, the big deal was The Phantom of the Opera, which had never been staged in France and Mogador was the place to do it. Unfortunately, ten days before it opened, there was a huge fire that destroyed the stage and blackened the inside of the entire building. So that play was cancelled forever (since these programmes are concocted a minimum of two years in advance, and if you miss your slot, you don't get it back. (Actually another version of Phantom is supposed to play at the Casino de Paris at the end of the year.) The theatre was closed for nine months while they changed the stage, all 1600 seats, repainted everything and made everything presentable again. And so today when I visited, the next play on the schedule is now playing.
There's the Palais Garnier at the end of the street.
If you give me a list of plays for which I would rather drink hemlock than have to sit through the thing, Grease would certainly be high on the list. But since I was just visiting the theatre and not seeing the play, it was fine.
Our rendezvous was at the stage door ("entrée des artistes") around the corner on rue Saint Lazare.
And so we went in to begin the tour. I think there was a group of 15 people today.