Passion arrived at the Théâtre du Châtelet this March, and The Stephen Sondheim Society was treated to a backstage tour plus an exclusive Q&A with the three leads – Natalie Dessay, Ryan Silverman and Erica Spyres – and MD Andy Einhorn.
The most recent show by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, Passion is a rhapsody and meditation on the meaning of love, and in the hands of acclaimed actress-director Fanny Ardent, it’s epic and beautifully abstract, completely at home on the enormous Châtelet stage. Despite the size of the venue, Ardent’s Passion still manages to retain its intimacy, the drama thrown into sharp focus by the filmic design and monochromatic imagery.
For the Sondheim Society’s visit on Friday 18th March, we were treated to a pre-show tour of the back stage area and a fascinating talk by our tour guide Rita, who, in a series of humorous anecdotes and passionate reenactments, put the story of French theatre into the context of the country’s tempestuous history. This was followed by a Society social gathering with a buffet of French nibbles and wine at the Cafe Joly adjoining the theatre – a pre-show tradition for us at Châtelet.
Following the performance – look out for a review in the next edition of Sondheim The Magazine, and for now enjoy member Jeremy Chapman’s review for Musical Theatre Review – the three principals, Natalie Dessay (Fosca), Ryan Silverman (Giorgio) and Erica Spyres (Clara), plus MD Andy Einhorn, treated us to a private 20-minute Q&A session. The full transcript will also be published in the next edition of the magazine. During the talk, it was mentioned that Steve had attended the public dress rehearsal and was pleased with the result. If was, of course, Steve’s encouragement to stage Passion at the Châtelet that convinced Artistic Director Jean-Luc Choplin to mount the work in the first place.
Those of you not able to make it to Paris will be pleased to learn that the production was audio-recorded for French radio. We’ll share more details on the broadcast date once we have them. For now, you can watch the Châtelet’s trailer for the show here:
We’d like to thank everyone at the Châtelet for their help in organising our trip. Thanks, too, to members Judith Horsfall, Frédéric Ambrogiani and David Oldcorn for arranging, respectively, the back-stage tour, the pre-show buffet and drinks, and the after-show Q&A.
All images © Théâtre du Châtelet / Marie-Noëlle Robert