La Poupée Sanglante at the Théâtre de la Huchette, Paris.
Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
After the disappointing but successful Kiki, le Montparnasse des années folles last year, the Théâtre de la Huchette is presenting for an open run this summer a new thriller musical called La Poupée Sanglante (The Bloody Doll), based notably on the work of Gaston Leroux, author of The Phantom of the Opera.
This lesser-known novel was published serially in the Parisian newspaper Le Matin between 1 July and 29 August 1923. Alternating between horror and humour, it is an odd but auspicious choice for an original musical.
Co-written by Didier Bailly, who also doubles as actor and piano player, and Eric Chantelauze as lyricist and director, La Poupée Sanglante boasts one of the best scores I’ve heard in a French musical for a very long time.
Its three actor cast plus a pianist successfully achieves the challenge of playing 15 different characters and delivering a terrific tap dancing number on a comparatively small stage.
Charlotte Ruby, Alexandre Jérôme (recently seen in the Paris edition of The Full Monty and the tour of Dirty Dancing) and Edouard Thiebaut, seen in Titanic at the Liege Opera, more recently as the Tin Man at the Palais des Congrès, and both Singin’ in the Rain and Passion at Châtelet.
All three are excellent all-around musical theatre performers of a kind rarely seen in Paris. And the quality of this new work could lend itself easily to a British or Off-Broadway/Broadway adaptation, as it has exactly the same tone as the Tony winner of two seasons past A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.
Clearly the best new original French musical of the year so far, La Poupée is not to be missed and surely has a ‘bloody’ future.