A new musical that was workshopped last week at Northwestern University in Evanston played to a sold-out crowd in concert reading form Monday night at Thalia Hall in Chicago.
The musical, “La Révolution Française,” was written by the Tony and Academy Award nominated team of Alan Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, of “Les Misérables” and “Miss Saigon.”
The concert performance is produced and presented by The American Music Theatre Project and the FWD Theatre Project, an up-and-coming Chicago group.
Combining symphonic and rock music, this new musical is “a rock opera” with “a grittier sound” than the famous “Les Mis,” according to FWD Theatre Project Artistic Director Amber Mak. “The material sounds very similar,” since both feature French revolutionaries, “but they are not the same show at all. This story [Révolution] is historical fiction with the French Revolution and the events surrounding it as the backdrop for the love story. The sound of this show has more of a 70’s rock feel to it with a rock band on stage as characters in the show.”
The story of “La Révolution Française” focuses on the love between Charles Gauthier, who is embroiled in the revolution, and Isabelle de Montmorency, an aristocrat forced to flee with the royal family. The English adaptation of the book and lyrics was done by Jeff Award-winning Northwestern alumnus Michael Mahler (“October Sky”).
The team has been in residence on Northwestern’s campus for over a week, workshopping “La Révolution Française” with professional and undergraduate actors.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have a room full of such great talent, enthusiasm and heart,” said Ryan Garson of the American Music Theatre Project. “I had been to a couple of FWD Theatre Project’s concert readings they held downtown at City Winery last year. I was amazed at the crowd they got to show up for a reading of a new musical. It was a completely sold out house full of new faces who wanted to see a musical in development.”
Garson said, “Audiences will see the first draft of the English adaptation of this musical that was actually written before ‘Les Misérables’, which will make for a truly special night at Thalia Hall. And we’ll see where the show goes from there!”
For Mak, the collaboration is one that makes sense in the context of Chicago’s new works: “It is exciting to see how many new musicals are in the works in Chicago, and we are thrilled to be a part of the conversation.”