At just sixteen years old, Franco-American Nicolas Motet is charming and down-to-earth, yet eloquent and perfectly bilingual. He is also the ambitious star of the long-awaited production Oliver Twist: The Musical. Not only did he invite us to see some of the rehearsals, he also kindly sat down with Theatre in Paris at the café of the glamorous and historic Salle Gaveau to answer our burning questions about the production, his projects, and life as a bilingual musical theatre star in France.
Theatre in Paris: At a young age, you were already involved in many projects such as the Grand Show des Enfants [“The Great Show of Children”] and The Voice France! Could you tell us how it all started?
Nicolas Motet: I began taking classes in musical theatre when I was eight and pretty quickly I was able to do my first show when I was nine, I believe, on TF1 [A French Television Channel] [during which] I was on the Grand Show des Enfants. And ever since, everything kind of continued because I was able to meet people, and I was able to learn a lot. I guess [everything] is kind of linked in, all together… it’s one thing that led to another and so on and so, here I am now!
TIP: A few years ago, you met the composer of this production of Oliver Twist Shay Alon in a rather serendipitous way. Could you tell us how that meeting happened, and how the relationship developed?
NM: I met Shay, I think it was... two years ago—that was the first time I saw him—and we started talking because I was speaking with my mom in English. He was new to France so he was [happy to hear] someone speaking in English and came to join in the conversation! And so we just started talking, and he talked about how he composes and how he does music and after we kept in touch [online]. I didn’t see him for a long time but I guess he kept in touch with what I was doing online, because it was two years [later] when he sent me a message saying, “Nicolas, I need a little help from you.” And it was lucky because I was on the freeway to Paris […]
Basically, I learned the song (for Oliver) with him, and he asked me if I would audition for the casting. And so… [I thought,]“sure! Yeah!” I loved the song, but I really didn’t expect that, you know just randomly! So when the producer, the amazing Alexandre Piot, saw my video, he told me afterwards that after just thirty seconds […] he knew it was going to be me! It was pretty quick, and it’s a nice story […] When you end up in such a huge production, you really think, like, “who would have thought?”
"A year ago, if you had told me that I’d be in a musical in Paris, I would [not have believed you]!"
TIP: You were second runner up on The Voice Kids. That’s amazing! Tell us about your experience.
NM: I really loved it because I was able to meet people my age that share the same passion, so I was able to make a lot of great friends. [Although] the stress of the blind auditions was one of the biggest stresses I’ve had to deal with—that’s where they turn around [and push the button]. I’ll never forget it! You just [go in] and it’s total pitch dark—you don’t see anything—and the only thing you see are the names of the coaches, and the public is totally silent […] It happens so fast… and I had the luck that one of the judges [pushed the button].
TIP: That must be incredibly nerve-wracking! On stage during the rehearsals of Oliver you don’t seem nervous at all. You must really feel comfortable in the role. Have you read Oliver Twist or any other works by Dickens?
NM: In school we studied the novel a bit, and I always loved the story, but I never read the whole book, but now I have obviously—I mean because the director really wanted to really bring something new in Oliver and give him a new character. So I really wanted to get where [Oliver] comes from and put my spin on it. And every time we work, I always find a little extra detail for the character. We really want to add something to it.