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New York City Review by Oscar E. Moore
Based on Mark Twain’s story of switched identities and performed in French with simultaneous English translations of dialogue and songs projected on a Samsung monitor, Le Prince et Le Paurve (The Prince and the Pauper) is a charming, tuneful and most satisfying surprise at the Midtown International Fringe Festival.
A beautiful yet simple production, an Oliver! meets Les Miz - Le Prince et Le Pauvre boasts an incredibly melodic score played to the hilt by an on stage orchestra of five which includes Piano (David Terriault), Violin (Vincent Kim), Clarinet (Emilie Chamberland), Keyboard-percussion (Chris Barillaro) and by favorite French horn (Fanny Ladouceur).
The music, orchestrations and original stage direction by Julien Salvia are quite amazing for this low budget production that unfortunately played a mere three performances at the June Havoc Theatre as part of the Festival.
Le Prince et Le Pauvre has also been performed in Paris where it won the prestigious “Marius Award” for Best “family-oriented” Musical 2008 and also at the Centre for Education and Theatre in Montreal. A very well deserved award, I might add.
The English adaptation by Michael Conley is based on the book and lyrics by Ludovic-Alexandre Vidal which adheres closely to the original text by Twain hitting all the major plot points in this two hour musical that has an excellent ensemble.
London. 1549. St. George’s Day. Henry VIII’s son Edward (Emilie Allard) accidentally meets Tom Canty (Caroline Mailhot) a poor beggar who has an abusive father (Simon Chausse) and a loving mother (Nathalie Niesing). It’s incredible how much the two young ladies look like one another playing the two young men and both singing magnificently and believably becoming the two who want to discover how the other lives.
There is the villain of the piece, Lord Hertford (Serge Turcotte) Edward’s uncle who hopes to make a puppet of the boy once he becomes King having himself made guardian of the young boy. His silly lackey, Gustave (Alexandre Leveille) manages to be both stupid and sincere, turning in an almost show stealing performance.
Richard Nicolas Villeneuve as Miles Hendon is searching for his long lost love Edith (Genevieve Bastien) who wields a wicked rolling pin saving the day. He meets and befriends Edward posing as the beggar boy delivering his songs in a robust tenor while Ms. Bastien adds some flirty humor to the proceedings.
It was a brilliant move to cast two ladies in the leads as they are terrific and believable with strong voices. It was wonderful to be able to care what happens to them, despite the translations sometimes going haywire. It was an easy pleasure to follow the story line enacted by an expert cast with a score that could one day become a classic.
I encourage you to support Montreal theatre. We have an ocean of bilingual talent in this corner of the world, let's get out there and see it!
Save me a seat, will ya??
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