Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Crossroads at the Paris Fringe Festival

The cast of Crossroads performing at the Paris Fringe. From left to right: Andrea Offner, Lotte Lauren, Marion Préïté and Miranda Crispin.

On a beautiful Paris evening in May, the Paris Fringe international theatre festival kicked off with an opening ceremony to showcase the performances at this year’s event. An interview by Madeleine Kirchhoff with Paris-based musical theatre writer, performer and artistic director Miranda Crispin.

Madeleine Kirchhoff: You’re the artistic director of American Musical Theatre Live in Paris which has created a bilingual musical selected for the 2017 Paris Fringe. I had the opportunity to see a snippet of the musical at the opening night of Paris Fringe. Tell us a about how the show was developed.

Miranda Crispin: Crossroads was originally conceived by four members of American Musical Theatre Live Paris (Marion Préïté, Devon Graves, Andrea Offner, and me), a musical theatre group of American and French artists who shared their cultures, languages, and stories to create this new, bilingual (French-English) musical.
The show was commissioned in 2016 for a private performance at the Manoir de Bonaventure, the childhood home of Alfred de Musset (whose poetry inspired the piece). This Paris Fringe performance, with direction by AMT Live member Adam Alexander, is the first time the show performs on a Parisian stage.

MK: What’s the show about, and who are the performers?

MC: The story takes place in present day in an airport where we meet a young bride-to-be who has fled her wedding. She encounters three women who help her make the biggest decision of her life - for better or for worse. Each woman shares insight from her own experience, in conversation and songs which blur the boundaries between French and English.
The story is punctuated by new and existing repertoire, accompanied by the artists on piano and guitar. From classical Golden Age tunes to contemporary musical theatre, the score includes jazz, blues, and country songs, and interpolates original compositions written for this show.
In this show, I perform alongside three members of the AMT Live company: American singer/songwriter Andrea Offner (USA), who also serves as President of the association, French performer and playwright Marion Préïté (who wrote the book for this musical), and the newest member of the troupe, performer Lotte Lauren (Belgium). Original songs by Andrea Offner and Devon Graves are featured in the show.

MK: What’s the musical theatre scene like in Paris?

MC: Paris is an exciting place to be creating musical theatre right now. There is both a reverence for the tradition of the genre, and a curiosity for new works. The artistry and audience for musical theatre in Paris continue to grow, and it’s fascinating to see the fusion of this American genre and a French sensibility.
We wrote this bilingual musical to serve an ever-increasing bilingual community, and to create a bridge between anglophone and francophone theatregoers.
The company is thrilled to have been selected to present Crossroads as part of the international line up at the Paris Fringe. The festival, which takes place May 18-28, 2017, showcases both international work and France-based theatre companies with a focus on innovative approaches to theatre and an emphasis on contemporary themes in English.

MK: What else do you have in the works?

MC: With AMT Live, we are working on season plans for 2018-19 to include production of a professional musical, another session of integrated musical theatre classes, and will continue to produce Broadway cabaret themed concerts as a part of our Broadway Chez Nous Series, including a new concert dedicated to the works of Cole Porter. Last weekend, I performed alongside AMT company members in a Broadway concert to support the Paris non-profit arts organization Les Arts George V. I’m currently working as a vocal coach for the Disneyland Paris musical Mickey et le Magicien and have been collaborating with Paris Fringe founder Dom Douglas (as vocal coach) on a reading of his new musical, Le Chanteur Anglais. In June, I’ll join the Company L’elixir enchanté in the cast of La Vie Parisienne...ou Presque!, a comic reinterpretation of the Offenbach operetta, directed by Philippe d’Avilla.

Madeleine Kirchhoff
Madeleine Kirchhoff is a sociology student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with interests in education and culture. She is spending the summer in Europe.
Miranda Crispin is an actor, director, singer, teacher and language enthusiast. With a Masters degree in Music Theatre/Opera Performance from Arizona State University, and a B.F.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University, she studied French language at the Sorbonne and has served as an American Ambassadorial Scholar to France. She is the co-founder and Artistic Director of American Musical Theatre Live Paris.

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