- Oct 5, 2018
- Parisian theatre
- Amanda Mehtala
The Concert Hall Era of Paris' Théâtre Mogador
The man behind the venue is the British Alfred Butt, who aimed to tackle Paris after having established multiple successful stages in London. Inspired by the English music hall style in 1919, it was originally named “Palace Theatre” in hopes to appeal to British soldiers following WWI. Even Woodrow Wilson himself, in Paris for the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, attended the opening ceremonies! Situated on rue Mogador, named after an old city in western Morocco, a few years later, it was renamed Théâtre Mogador and inaugurated by the then-future American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Unfortunately, however, the very first show was not a huge success, and Alfred Butt soon decided to give up his dream of creating an English-style theatre in the heart of Paris. With new direction, the Théâtre Mogador decided to look to its roots for talent, and began bringing in many shows directly from London in hope to please Parisian audiences and save the venue. They went to new extremes to create a complete universe, decorating the whole theatre to immerse audiences for performances of Halleluia! Having found its rhythm once again, the theatre began to focus on musical shows, gaining its fame with performances such as Sergei Diaghilev’s “Ballet Russes”, and operettas such as Mistinguett, one of France's most popular singers throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
As many theatrical establishments throughout Europe, the Théâtre Mogador was forced to adapt in the mid 20th century during German occupation. Surprisingly turning away from contemporary dance-hall performances towards operettas of the 19th century, the venue served to conserve the rich musical history of France during this time.
Alfred Butt, original owner and manager of the Théâtre Mogador Selection of show posters at the Théâtre Mogador
Musical theatre calling brings the Mogador into a new era
It wasn’t until 1969 that the Théâtre Mogador found its true calling and began featuring hit musical theatre productions. The venue saw a series of managers come and go throughout the late 20th century, all without losing its newfound dedication to large scale musical productions, bringing A Chorus Line (1995), My Fair Lady (1983), Les Misérables (1991), and more. Flash forward to present time, and the Théâtre Mogador is the place to see Broadway-esque renditions, and through the past few years has welcomed celebrated productions such as Cats, The Lion King, or Mamma Mia! The Théâtre Mogador is not a space that frequently welcomes classic Broadway shows with a French twist, perfect for a Parisian theatre night.
Grease, the Musical 2017 at the Théâtre Mogador Chicago, the Musical at the Théâtre Mogador
Through tragedy and triumph, 100 years of success for shows in Paris
While Alfred Butt may not have lived to see the Théâtre Mogador reach its heights, the venue lives up to his dream of creating a large scale English-stye playhouse in the heart of Paris, and put Paris on the map alongside London and New York for major musical productions. Théâtre Mogador is right in the middle of the 9th arrondissement, where you can find also many bustling restaurants and bars, or explore the beautiful Parisian Passage des Panoramas. Unique among Parisian theatres, the Théâtre Mogador features an illuminated facade, lettering reminiscent of Broadway, and traces of English theatre architecture throughout. In order to provide the demanding technical staging aspects of many Broadway-style musicals, the Théâtre Mogador underwent many series of renovations to ensure cutting-edge technology and space allowing for orchestra and actors to disappear in a flash!
Crisis struck again in 2016, when the theatre suffered a large fire shortly before the premiere of long-awaited show Phantom of the Opera. While no one was hurt, the venue was left in poor shape and was forced to close its doors for many months of renovations. Parisians and visitors will have to wait a while longer before seeing Phantom of the Opera. New and improved, the venue reopened in 2017 with some modern additions, welcoming the public to the hit subtitled show Grease. With its French charm, British playhouse architectural inspiration, and famous international shows, the Théâtre Mogador has been pleasing audiences for over a century, a must-see Parisian venue.