Paris night life and family entertainment may sound like an oxymoron, but you may be surprised to know that French families rarely leave their kids at home with a babysitter when it comes to ‘sorties’ or socializing. In fact, the family is probably the anchor of French culture in many ways.
That’s one of the reasons I was so thrilled to attend the theatrical musical
Le Jazz & La Diva Opus II which opened October 8, ’08. The show runs through December 24, 08, so if you plan on being in town, and you’re a jazz and/or classical music fan, this is great entertainment even if you don’t speak much French. If your kids love music too – but not ”your kind of music’ – this may be just the right show for all of you.
The gist of this family of musicians’ saga is simple enough to understand with a quick summary: La Diva (Caroline Casadesus) is a classically-trained opera singer. Her husband, Didier Lockwood is a jazz violinist. La Diva’s two sons have chosen their separate camps – David adheres to strictly classical piano, and Thomas is hellbent on jazz – or so it seems. The battle between classical and jazz persuasions is valiantly fought with some surprising twists and turns, but the best part is the synthesis and fusion of brilliant music tempered with family warmth and charm. This is a can’t miss show!
One of the most frustrating aspects of Paris night life for non-French speaking visitors is not being able to take advantage of the plethora of theatrical events both on the Right and Left banks. I’ve noted in recent years that musicals are becoming more and more popular. In fact, the first episode of Le Jazz&La Diva appeared in 2006, winning a Moliere award for best musical that year.
Theaters are normally open from Tuesdays through Saturday nights. You can either buy tickets at the theater box office, at FNAC bookstores, or at the half-price kiosk on the esplanade between Tour Montparnasse and the Gare Montparnasse. (Hint: Tuesday night is usually a the slowest night of the week – and therefore a good night to try for half-price or last minute tickets!)
Another option for non-French speakers are ‘chansonniers’ or traditional French sing-a-longs that you may find at some restaurants in the Montmartre district (Au Lapin Agile).
Bel Canto is a restaurant which features professionally-trained opera-singing waiters.
Le Zebre de Belleville is featured as Paris’s only circus cabaret with a dinner and show for parents and kids.
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Ready for a challenge? Here’s a surefire way to see if all your college education tuition fees have paid off. Take your recent college graduates to see some of the classics that are often staged
If you do speak some French and want to brush up on your classics, there are plenty of opportunities to find new productions of Moliere’s most famous works. Likewise, Ionesco’s plays never seem to disappear from the theater circuit.
Goldoni fans will be happy to know that Montparnasse has one theater Theatre de la Comedia Italienne, that’s devoted to the Italian playwright (the performances are actually given in French rather than Italian). Another theater devoted to Italian playwrights is L’Espace La Comedia 6 Impasse Lamier Metro: Philippe-Auguste (11eme) currently performing Giacomo.
Sadly, some French playwrights such as Racine (which many school kids used to be able to recite) are not getting into production as often these days – but Le Jazz et La Diva Opus II is just one example of the potential for finding a meeting ground for the classics and the most avant garde – all in Paris!
Le Jazz et La Diva Opus 2
Directed by Alan Sachs. With Didier Lockwood, Caroline Casadesus, Thomas Enhco and David Enhco.
Tel. 01 43 22 16 18
Resa theatre: 08 92 70 77 05
Box Office 11 am to …
26 Rue de la Gaite, 14th arrondissement
7:30 pm Tuesday through Saturdays
Ticket prices: 18 Euros to 38 Euros
Le Zebre de Belleville
The ‘Family Cabaret’
61 blvd. de Belleville, 11th arrondissement
Metro: Couronnes or Belleville
Tel. 01 43 55 55 55
Bel Canto Restaurant
72, Quai de l’Hotel de Ville 4th arrondissement
Tel. 01 42 78 30 18
Metro: Pont Marie
17-19 Rue de la Gaite
Metro: Gaite, Edgar Quinet
Goldoni et Gozzi (the grand Venetian masters of the 18th century).
Au Lapin Agile
22, rue des Saules 18th arrondissement
Tel 01 46 06 85 87