French mu­si­cal based on

Romeo and Juliet

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By CHEN NAN chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

The French mu­si­cal Romeo&Juli­ette, star­ring Alexis Loizon and Cle­mence Il­li­a­quer, is now be­ing staged in Bei­jing.

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