I remember years ago, when I first began working in theatre, I made a promise to myself that I would never allow it to become just a job. I first stepped foot on a stage when I was four years old, and from that moment on I knew that I wanted to be a part of this magical world. When I grew up and discovered the role of a stage manager, I was thrilled to discover that a job existed in theatre that catered to every one of my strengths and just so happened to be in high demand. It was like I had hit the theatre jackpot, and I vowed never to take it for granted. While I can honestly say I never once took it for granted that I was able to make a living in the theatre, there were certainly days when it was just a job. Those were usually the days when the lighting board refused to work, tech rehearsals were running three hours behind schedule, actors were running amok backstage (or onstage for that matter), and a thousand different people were asking me a thousand different questions all at the same time. So yes, there were days when being a stage manager was just a job, and an extraordinarily difficult one at that, but while those days were thankfully in the minority, I was always grateful for those wondrous moments when I would be reminded of just exactly why I love this art form so much. One such moment happened recently in a small theatre in the beautiful city of Paris.
Just a couple of blocks away from the famous Moulin Rouge is the Theatre Fontaine, which from now until September 9th is playing host to one of the most extraordinary shows I’ve ever seen. Les Virtuoses was created by brothers Mathias and Julien Cadez, two classically trained pianists who apparently decided that being extraordinarily talented at one art form wasn’t challenging enough, so on top of performing a piano concert, they also decided to throw in magic and clowning. That’s right. You read that correctly. Les Virtuoses is a piano concert, magic show, clowning performance, and physical comedy all in one, and these elements all come together in a way that is truly magical. Dressed in tailcoats and comically teased hairstyles, these two performers perfectly embody their characters throughout the show, and their piano skills alone are worth the price of admission. Throw in some impeccable comic timing and awe inspiring spectacle, and these two are almost absurdly talented. It’s exhilarating, captivating, and quite simply unlike anything I’ve ever seen onstage before, so if you happen to be passing through Paris in the next couple of weeks, I can’t recommend it enough.
After the curtain came down, the two brothers spent some time in the lobby greeting people and taking photos as the audience exited. I wanted to tell them just how much I loved the show, and after four years of learning French I was relatively confident that I could have a conversation with them in their native language. However, apparently seeing the art form I love so much being raised to such an incredible degree erases my ability to communicate, because when it was my turn to speak all I could manage was to stammer out a couple of sentences in English, which was an embarrassingly epic language fail on my part. They, however, were lovely and gracious, replied to me in English, and thanked me for coming. On the way home I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that a theatre show had actually rendered me speechless, because ask anyone who knows me even peripherally, that is a rare event indeed.