Did you know that there are amazing, Broadway quality Musicals in Paris... with English subtitles!?
No longer shall that pesky language barrier get in the way of visitors to Paris enjoying the best that Paris has to offer. Thanks to Theatre in Paris, many shows in French are now equipped with high tech subtitling technology, so that English speakers can enjoy Parisian entertainment. Who knew?!
Unbeknownst to many, the music of France, in addition to having a wide variety of styles and genres, actually served as inspiration for some of the greatest Anglo-Saxon artists and works of all time.
That song your grandparents loved by Frank Sinatra? NOPE! It was Claude Françoise. That 70’s ballad ‘Feelings’? Morris something? Try again: Louis Gasté. Even S Club 7 was inspired by French artist Norma Ray!
In addition to their musical génie, the French don’t get enough credit for their stage plays and musicals either. That’s why, while also making the best Parisian plays and musicals accessible to English speakers, we’ve compiled this short list of some of the best past and present musicals in Paris, so that anglophone francophiles are no longer in the dark!
So what's on you ask? Here are the musicals in Paris... Now Playing!
Grease the Musical, Playing at Théâtre Mogador in the 9th Arrondissement of Paris
OK- so not exactly the French-to-English inspiration we claimed earlier. BUT: how can you resist meeting the Sandy and Danny à la Parisienne? For us, it’s impossible.
The main actors in this musical show are professionally trained Parisian performers, born to be stars of the stage.
Sandy, or Alyzée Lalande actually trained with the Opera de Paris. Alexis Loizon just happened to play in the 2017 Disney blockbuster- Beauty and the Beast! He also played Disney’s first openly homosexual character. Double points for inclusion and representation!
Grease the Musical is playing at the Théâtre Mogador, and while the leading ladies and gentlemen may be foreign to the our untrained ears (that is to say, non-French speakers!), they are quite prestigious artists in the world of fine wine and fashion.
The actress playing Rizzo, Emmanuelle Nzuzi, starred in the French adaptation of the musical Cats, and Florie Sourice, playing our fave beauty school dropout Frenchie, starred in the French adaptation of the musical Mamma Mia!
Ahh, Edith Piaf. For those of you millenials who might not have heard of the name… you’ve definitely heard one of her songs. Don’t believe us? Go watch Madagascar 3 again.
Piaf was born in poverty and raised in rather questionable circumstances (her mother ran off when she was a child; her father chose a brothel owner as a ‘female role model’ for her…) but she overcame all of the hurdles, against all odds, and became the biggest international- yes she was famous all over the globe- superstar, right from the heart of Paris.
In this intimate Parisian musical I Love Piaf, her biggest fan Jacques Pessis re-tells her scandalous story (he’s also adorably well versed in all things "music" and French) in between her ballads, reimagined by a chic Parisian rockstar by the name of Karoline Rose, who also happened to be on the Voice France!
Although this musical could be in an enormous Parisian stadium with thousands of spectators, the production decided to keep it small and intimate. Lucky for us :)
But beware, it’s often sold out, so book soon!
Les Virtuoses, now playing at Théâtre Fontaine in the 9th Arrondissement, Paris.
This one’s a bit of an anomaly. There is zero dialogue (meaning it is 100% accessible to people of all languages and cultures!), and quite frankly, none needed.
Think of this musical as a mix between a magic show, a classical music concert, and a performance by the most adept clown you’ve ever seen. Reviews compare the performers (the brothers Mathias and Julien Cadez) to the Illusionist... Charlie Chaplin and… Chopin. Don’t ask US how they do it...After all, they are the virtuoses!
Paris Musicals of the Past
So when we ask who knew that there were amazing musicals in Paris, it's kind of an unfair question because, well... we knew! So, since we couldn't resist gloating just a little, below are some of some of our favourite musicals in Paris... and we were fortunate enough to subtitle them for English speakers from all over the world. While our past subtitled musicals in Paris are not so far back in time as the Chorus of the Folies Bergères (above), we have been at it for a few years, and some of these shows might be back in the near future...So while you cannot see these musicals right now, you can definitely visit the breathtaking, historical theatres in which they were hosted-or browse our other shows.
Oliver Twist the Musical in Paris
Oliver Twist the Musical was one of our personal favourites. Sadly it’s over, but fortunately, some of the same stars are re-taking the Paris stage again in the musical Grease. Oliver Twist the musical in Paris came about in a very serendipitous way: Franco-American Alexander Wood, the star, met the Israeli composer, Shay Alon, in a café where the latter heard him speaking English. The composer was so thrilled to find someone speaking English, and Alexander Wood just happened to be a trained musical performer (even at the age of 13)...It seems that you could say that thanks to this one spontaneous meeting, both of their dreams became reality. Merci Paris!
Summer '44, a Progressive Parisian Musical, Set in the Past...
This one was playing at a majestic venue called Le commédia, a Parisian venue that played a significant role during the Roaring Twenties or les années folles, and saw the highest paid female performer at the time, Mistinguet.
Fitting, since the show was about the Rochambelles, the one and only women’s unit to serve on the front lines in the Second World War, founded by an American francophile and expat living in France.
The unit of women drove ambulances and aided wounded soldiers, and this play was the fictionalized story of their troubles in love and their careers, narrated by none other than Marisa Berenson, American actress and model (and Paris lover).
Mistinguett: a musical about Paris' most famous performer
Back to European culture inspiring popular North American concepts, this show tells the story of the perfect example. Musical Hall shows, originally British, were quickly adopted by the French, and subsequently inspired Broadway shows. The Music Hall genre mixed pop songs, comedy, and “variety entertainment”made up of a variety of acts such as musical performances, comedy sketches, magic shows, acrobatics, even juggling or ventriloquism.
The show Mistinguett told the story of both the highest paid female performer of the Années Folles, as well as the creation of the first French Music Hall show in Paris. It also played at Le Commédia in Paris' entertainment district.
Performer Mistinguett’s true name was Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois. She performed in some of the most prestigious French venues, such as the Moulin Rouge, the Folies Bergère, and the Eldorado. This was by far one of our favourite musical shows, highlighting both French culture and theatre, two things near and dear to our hearts. The idea for Mistinguett was conceived by the same passionate producers as our current show, I Love Piaf!