Les enfants de la comédie musicale

Musical theatre training for children between the ages of 6-17 at the Centre de Danse du Marais.

AN INTERVIEW WITH ANTOINE CARRANCE AND JESSICA CAPON

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Jessica : Antoine, racontez-nous-en un peu plus sur l’histoire de la famille Carrance et du 41 rue du Temple ?
Antoine : Le Centre a ouvert ses portes en 1971. Micheline Carrance, alors pharmacienne crée le Centre de Danse du Marais. Au départ, Il n’y qu’un seul studio et 40 ans plus tard, 100 professeurs exercent leur art dans 17 studios.

Jessica : Pourquoi avez-vous choisi de créer une formation de comédie musicale pour les enfants ?
Antoine : En 1972, j’ai 10 ans et je découvre Fred Astaire ! Grâce à lui, je prends des cours des claquettes au Centre.  À 12 ans, je découvre West Side Story, à 16 ans Le magicien d’Oz, à 17 ans Hair et à 18 ans The Rocky Horror Picture Show à Dallas. Ma culture de comédie musicale est essentiellement cinématographique. C’est très tard que j’ai découvert qu’on pouvait voir les mêmes spectacles au théâtre.

Je n’ai même pas cherché à savoir que l'origine de tout ça était tout d’abord : la scène. Je n'avais pas cette connaissance et maintenant je l’ai grâce aux Enfants de la Comédie Musicale. 

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Jessica : Quelle est votre comédie musicale préférée ?
Antoine : Mes trois préférées sont All That Jazz, Hair et West Side Story. Je suis également très attaché aux films musicaux comme The Commitments et le film Ray sur la vie de Ray Charles et bien sûr les Blues Brothers.

Jessica : Est-ce que vous pouvez nous en dire un peu plus sur la formation LECM ?
Antoine : La formation s’ouvre sur la danse, le chant et le théâtre en développant la technique et l’interprétation au même niveau dans les trois disciplines.

Jessica : C’est comme chez moi, en Angleterre, nous disons que les acteurs doivent être « Triple Threat ». La comédie musicale est un mélange homogène des trois disciplines. Il faut que chaque élément soit au service de l’histoire. C’est avec la création du premier « Book Musical » Oklahoma! par Rodgers et Hammerstein dans les années 40 que les chansons et les danses deviennent une part essentielle de l’histoire et ne sont pas simplement accessoires.

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Jessica : Décrivez notre formation avec 5 mots seulement ?
Antoine : Répétition, coulisse, scène, lumière, applause

Jessica : Et comment avez-vous trouvé vos professeurs ?

Antoine : J’ai beaucoup de chance d’avoir des bons professeurs ! La façon dont on s’est rencontré tient un peu au hasard : soit c’est moi qui suis allé vers eux soit ce sont eux qui sont venus vers moi. Par exemple c’est moi qui ai choisi Stephy Haik, Vanessa Villan et Hervé-Claude Ilin mais les autres sont des rencontres souvent organisées par d'autres professeurs. J’ai été tout de suite impressionné par l’excellent niveau des spectacles fin d’année. Ce qui m’a conforté sur le choix de cette équipe et sur la décision d’ouvrir cette école.

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Jessica : Il y avait combien des professeurs au début ?

Antoine : Au début, il devait en avoir six, je pense. Et puis comme l’école a doublé en taille, il y en a maintenant 15.

Antoine: OK Jessica, who are you?

Jessica: So, my name is Jessica Capon and I am originally from London, but I moved to Paris 8 years ago. I started doing musical theatre when I was about 8 years old at Italia Conti and then graduated from Guildford School of Acting with a degree in musical theatre at the age of 21. I then went on to get an MA in theatre this year. In 2015 I created a musical theatre company here in Paris called 27 Saville. We started out as 4 actors and now I have over 25 super talented performers working with me. I joined Les Enfants de la Comédie Musicale this summer as the administrative director and I am super happy to be here, it’s a super eclectic job that always keeps me smiling. I even get to do regular musical theatre workshops in English for kids in the school holidays (check out our page for the dates!). 

Antoine: What are your top five favourite musicals?

Jessica: That’s very hard, it changes quite often, I would say that right now Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda is probably my number one.

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Antoine: Have you seen it?

Jessica: No I’ve got tickets for next year.

Antoine: You haven’t seen your favourite musical?

Jessica: No but I have listened to the cast recording a thousand times and it has pretty much the entire show on it, which is not often the case for cast albums, so you can understand pretty much what the show is like. I wrote my dissertation for my masters on it even though I haven’t seen it yet! After that I would say The Wild Party by Andrew Lippa - I played Queenie last year, so it’s a show very close to my heart. Parade by Jason Robert Brown, In the Heights (the other big show by Lin Manuel Miranda), Come From Away... Dear Evan Hansen is amazing, The Colour Purple revival with Cynthia Erivo was amazing. I could go on and on…

Antoine: Would you say that French taste in musical theatre is pretty classic, pretty poor? Because I haven’t heard of any of the shows that you’re talking about.

Jessica: I think it depends who you’re talking to, I know a lot of people in the musical theatre industry over here who know all of the shows I’ve talked about. It depends what your interest is, but I think, in the same respect, if you talk to an English person or an American person who doesn’t really know musical theatre, they won’t have heard of all of these shows. However, for shows that are currently on Broadway there is so much press surrounding them that a lot of Americans will have heard of them without knowing what the show is about.

Looking at the choices of shows that are put on in Paris, I think there is a tendency to put on the classics because they are more likely to sell; Grease, Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, even though it didn’t get to stage. Everything that Mogador does are these huge blockbuster musicals, because they’re going to sell.

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I think Châtelet does a very good job at bringing in more obscure repertoire; they’ve done a lot of Sondheim, like Into The Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, or Passion, which is probably one of Sondheim’s least accessible works. They also really excel in their golden age tap shows, like 42nd Street, Singin’ in the Rain or An American in Paris, which has since transferred to Broadway and London!

Antoine: And what do you think about the fact that Les Misérables is considered THE musical and it’s French?

Jessica: It’s funny, people consider Les Misérables as being part of the boom of blockbuster English musicals from the 1980s. I think it's because it is more well known in English, and that the show was produced by Cameron Mackintosh who is the king producer of all the huge musicals in the West End. Then there’s Miss Saigon, also by Boublil and Schnberg, which is such a beautiful show - it broke my heart when I saw it. It’s written by two French guys but it’s in English.

I do think France is getting there, to do better quality stuff. I mean, on the smaller scale, where I work, there’s things like Broadway au Carré that do bi-monthly open mics and concerts with contemporary writers and composers from New York. There’s things like 27 Saville, my company, or Les Barrés de Broadway who do these more obscure shows, on a smaller budget. So, there’s good musical theatre being done in Paris, you just need to know where to look for it.

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Personally, I find that good musical theatre touches me in a way that no other art form can. If a show can make me cry my heart out on the metro whilst listening to it, I know that the piece has reached through the fourth wall and touched me in some way. 

Antoine: Do you think theatre helps young children gain confidence in themselves?

Jessica: Absolutely, I started doing theatre very young and before that I was pretty shy and in my own world. Theatre allowed me to gain confidence, open up and express my creativity. I knew from a young age that I wanted to pursue it as my career, but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get there. There’s no better feeling than being on stage, the adrenaline, the rush: it makes all the hard work and rehearsals worth it.