“Starmania”, a successful display of dark beauty

Since November 8, 2022, it has been presented in the musical Sena. starmania plunges us back into the rock opera imagined by Michel Berger and Luc Plamondo. Between homage, nostalgia and reinvention, Thomas Jolly has managed to deliver a musical comedy that is as dark as it is brilliant, faithful to the original work.

Start working on it starmaniaThe famous rock opera staged in 1979 by Michel Berger and Luc Plamondon is no small challenge. However, Thomas Jolly was able to revive the work of the pianist and singer who died suddenly in 1992. Presented at the Seine Musicale in Paris until January 29, 2023, before going on a French tour, this historic musical is a surprising return to the origins of the dystopian work created on the French stage 43 years ago. Thomas Jolly perfectly understood Michel Berger’s original intention: to offer a French-language rock opera with a social purpose.

And so we retreat from the first moments to Monopolis, the capital of the West, united in a single state. We also find the Black Stars group, the Underground Cafe and its vending machine, as well as many characters that make up this story, such as Zero Janvier, Ziggy or Stella Spotlight.

The prophetic universe

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Under the tutelage of Raphaël Hamburger, with the initiative of the project together with his mother France Gall, starmania here it takes on the air of a prophetic tale. Michel Berger’s version composed with Luc Plamondon has never been more accurate. Indeed, the work catalyzes several themes such as environmental skepticism, power, politics, homosexuality or terrorism. A reinvention that allows today to measure the impact and anticipation of the original rock opera.

Populist discourse, celebrity attachment, global warming… starmania finally, it solves all the problems we face today. It gives importance to this music that goes beyond simple description and emblematic hits previously interpreted by Balavoine, Gall or Maurane. If these songs are the last traces of Michel Berger’s version, then Thomas Jolly understood above all what the essence of the song was. starmania : its history.

Thus, it offers a slightly refined version, far from ignoring a portrait full of darkness. A bold choice that shows the director didn’t just want to copy the work of Berger and Plamondo.

exciting characters

If the interpreters of the characters have perhaps less charisma than the original actors – the weight of nostalgia forces – they never fall into the trap of imitating their predecessors. Moreover, Thomas Jolly makes them truly dramatic figures thanks to the oppressive scenery between shadow and light.

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This is especially the case with Johnny Roquefort (Comeau), a veritable drifter who roams the city and does not hesitate to indulge in unprecedented violence on stage. His character certainly finds the play’s most interesting, most dualistic protagonist. Complexity felt from the first notes of the emblematic song When you come to townalso confronts the famous Cristal (Lydia Adad/Gabrielle Lapointe).

The performance was also an opportunity to discover Alex Montembault in the shoes of Marie-Jeanne. Like Johnny, his role stands out from the rest in that this vending machine from the Underground Café embodies neutrality in a room full of characters, points of view, and adventures. It anchors the action, offers good times and even breaks the fourth wall, a charming and entertaining staging technique.

The nostalgia is still there

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starmania The Jolly version features all iconic music with music. Of SOS is a landowner in distress for Business BluesPassing by Stella’s dream is in focus, As in a giant karaoke, it’s hard to resist the urge to sing these hits that go beyond the scope of the show.

It immediately evokes a sense of nostalgia, but also shows it starmania is an intergenerational work. Both lyrics and music make this music immortal. However, we must emphasize the sometimes very kitsch side of certain scores. Whether starmaniait’s very much a later 1980s thing, the gestures, the microphone in his hand, as well as certain vocalizations giving the impression of over-emphasis on the vocal performances.

An impressive scene

The real genius is in the play of light. The lighting here creates an epic scene. Fascinating choreographies, costumes imagined by Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquière, or a turntable and a giant screen – all are impressive technical effects that show the scale of a magnificent scenario. Despite some length – the show lasts more than three hours – the scenes follow each other at an incredible speed, especially in the second act, reminiscent of the scale of today’s American musical comedies.

because starmania knows its standards and references. If the scope of Thomas Jolly’s play is nothing to envy on Broadway, we’ll recognize the sci-fi anticipation and futuristic, dehumanized inspiration. Metropolis (1927) by Fritz Lang. Closer to home, we might even see a nod to recent dystopian sagasThe Hunger Games (2008) in relation to power and the media.

The musical was also able to pay tribute to its creators without being crushed under the weight of the legacy. If France Gall’s haunting hologram is difficult to touch, the nod to Michel Berger and his famous white piano is as subtle as it is moving. A successful and beautiful tribute, balanced with the darkness of a musical comedy that continues to prove that our world is completely turned upside down. “stone”.

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