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Posts tagged ‘Moulin Rouge’

No. 299-300: Le Petit Palais et la Belle Époque

Kitcat was in town last weekend and since she is my “expo-kid”, we decided to make a leisurely visit to le Petit Palais and the wonderful exhibition ‘Paris 1900, The City of Entertainment’. I know I am a cliché, but I adore this period of French history, la belle époque, and turn-of-the-century Paris. I suspect there are many American Francophiles who do. If I had a time machine, I would slap on my button boots, slip on my pouter-pigeon blouse and trumpet-skirt, grab my feathered chapeau and set the dial for Paris, June 1900 and la Exposition Universelle

Mais malheureusement, time machines are still a vision of the future, so an afternoon at le Petit Palais will have to suffice. Amazingly there are over 600 works on display in the gorgeous ‘small palace’ that was designed by Charles Girault for the exposition. I cannot imagine a more perfect venue than these halls where the hatted and coiffed western world came to discover what the new century held. It must have been a real lollapalooza!

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The exhibition is organized into six ‘pavilions’ beginning with ‘Paris, window on the world’ featuring Gare de Lyon, Gare d’Orsay and Gare des Invalides, as well as Hector Guimard’s fabulous métro entrances. The expo ends with two pavilions focusing on the posh and wild world of entertainment on offer in Paris at the turn of the century—from opera to café singing, to Sarah Bernhardt and Debussy to brothels and circus acts, to everything else Baz Luhrmann would have us imagine in his fanciful film Moulin Rouge.

Filling the space in the middle are art nouveau posters and paintings, costumes, gowns, jewelry, everyday objects, objets d’art, sculptures, furniture, fine-arts, stained-glass windows, photographs and corridors filled with life-sized footage of revelers and curious fair-goers. A whole ‘pavillion’ is devoted to the myth of la Parisienne—the elegant Parisian women whose mystique still captures the imagination of women (and men) around the world.

 

Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Vuillard, are featured alongside Gérôme, Bouguereau, Gervex, Béraud, Degas, Besnard and, of course, Rodin and Toulouse-Lautrec…le Chat Noir, anyone?

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In lieu of a vrai time machine, this marvelous time capsule housed at le Petit Palais until August 17 will provide you with your Belle Époque fix and dazzle you with the promise and creativity from a storybook era long gone.

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Mais malheureusement: But unfortunately

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No: 126: American Musical Theatre LIVE!

source: AMT Live! Paris

source: AMT Live! Paris

Our family life in Paris would not be the same without the joyful, dedicated and exciting organization: American Musical Theatre LIVE! Truly, they have been a lifesaver and creative safe-haven for my two daughters, in a city where this type of artistic expression is only beginning to get a foothold.

Raised by a jolly, crooning father and theatre loving mother, I grew up addicted to American musicals. While most of my peers were crushing on Bobby Sherman and David (and Sean) Cassidy, I was pining for Gene Kelly in his tight sailor jazz pants. Don’t even get me started on Yul Brynner in the King and I. Even today two of my favorite performers are Hugh Jackman and Neil Patrick Harris not because I like them in Wolverine and How I Met Your Mother, but because, at heart, they are truly song-and-dance men.

Not surprisingly, I have passed my love of musical theatre on to Kitcat and Button. Before her second birthday, Kitcat  had memorized Madonna’s Evita, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina…really. And, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but by the time they were 8 and 5, they could sing the entire Cell Block Tango from Chicago with all the passion and anger of the original cast. At 10 and 7 they were regularly performing the Elephant Love Song Medley from Moulin Rouge for family and guests. So is it any surprise they are both actively pursuing their dreams of performing on Broadway or the West End?

Thankfully for both of them, but especially Button, we stumbled upon American Musical Theatre LIVE! on our second go-around in Paris. Co-founded by Miranda Crispin and John Florencio, two amazing artists and performers with a passion for American Musical Theatre, AMT LIVE! has been a godsend. They are the place to see contemporary off-Broadway musicals and cabaret concerts in Paris. And if you have the gumption and talent, they offer a musical theatre open mic soirées once a month. They are also available for professional, private coaching.

The group’s mission “is to introduce and promote musical theatre, notably contemporary works, and to provide a forum for exchange between French and international performers.” It’s a great mission and one they work extremely hard at accomplishing.

AMT LIVE! regularly hosts talented and highly regarded Artists-in-Residence from around the world. Button has been fortunate enough to participate in several, the most exceptional being a master class with Tony nominated Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Edges, A Christmas Story, the Musical; Dogfight, and James and the Giant Peach, A Musical). She was also cast in AMT LIVE!’s production of Edges in Paris last summer. It was a life changing experience and yet one more thing to love about our time in France.

The Premiere of EDGES in France, AMT Live!

The Premiere of EDGES in France, AMT Live!