French musical based on
Romeo and Juliet
One of William Shakespeare’s most celebrated plays, Romeo and Juliet, was adapted into a musical by French composer Gerard Presgurvic in 2001.
Since its premiere in Paris that year, the French musical Romeo & Juliette has toured 18 countries, attracting more than 6 million viewers.
It is now being staged in Beijing through Dec 18 as part of its Asia tour.
The musical’s producer, Eric Dumesnil, says that although it’s the first time the musical is running in China, it has gained success.
It was staged in the southern city of Guangzhou in November for an audience of over 250,000.
Compared with previous musicals adapted or inspired by Romeo and Juliet, such as the famous West Side Story, Presgurvic’s version captivates audiences, especially the youth, with its more contemporary style.
The French musical was updated in 2006 with new songs, stage sets, costumes and a new cast.
Presgurvic added electronic, dance, rock and other elements of modern music to it then.
Some of the musical’s important songs like Aimer, or Love — a duet sung after the secret wedding of Romeo and Juliet — and the opening song, Verone — which is about the long-standing feud between their families in Verona, an Italian city where Shakespeare’s play is set — are big hits in France.
“We want the audience to enjoy a version of Romeo and Juliet that they can feel connected with, such as falling in love and the desire for happiness,” says Presgurvic, who wrote many French pop songs in the 1980s.
Dumesnil says that, given the significance of youth in the original play, the musical chose the lead pair from among actors and actresses who had chemistry onstage, even if they were performing together for the first time during the auditions.
The present cast features Alexis Loizon, 27, as Romeo and Clemence Illiaquer, 19, as Juliet. Both are French and they joined the production in 2016.
The cast also has 32 modern dancers, with classical training.
“First love is beautiful, innocent and passionate. The youthfulness and chemistry of the protagonists
He says some of the cast members of the musical Romeo & Juliette are friends in real life so it’s easy for them to interpret their roles convincingly.
Presgurvic credits his lead stars with being inspirational on set and with helping to create a realistic and tender relationship between the protagonists.
The musical has been translated into 10 languages, including English, Spanish and Japanese. Dumesnil says a Chinese version has not been planned yet.
The French musical Romeo&Juliette, starring Alexis Loizon and Clemence Illiaquer, is now being staged in Beijing.