Many years ago, at age 22, I was granted an audition with the Bluebell Girls in Paris. I never took the opportunity as went to join a ballet company in New York instead but as I sat last week watching the sumptuous production that is Paris Merveilles at The Lido on the Champs–Élysées, I remembered that letter I received more than 30 years ago. I was reminded of so many aspects of my repertoire as a professional ballerina, what with the delightful swans en pointe and the graceful elegance of the dancers. It was a really satisfying theatrical experience.
The Lido premiered its first show in 1946, entertains 500,000 visitors and serves more than 300,000 bottles champagne a year, and remains an entertainment institution in the city.
The Bluebell Girls in Paris Merveilles are a dream, backed by the Lido Boys in fine form. These women are hand picked according to meticulous criteria and it shows. They are as perfectly groomed as their legendary founder Margaret Kelly (Miss Bluebell) was immaculate. Statuesque and tastefully sensuous, with “endless legs” , these are dancers who perform with suppleness and control, with pleasing balletic lines and technique, with confidence and the discipline of a corps de ballet. There is an art to the way they strut and sashay with such grace and aplomb around the vast stage – it made me want to take lessons!
Paris Merveilles is a show that is fast paced and a perfect throwback to the days of the traditional Parisian cabaret and a celebration of Parisian culture. The concept and direction is by Franco Dragone who taken this most revered French entertainment genre and changed it up beautifully, infusing dynamics that include a 45 piece orchestra, a small ice rink and a stage that elevates and dips, all that contribute towards an exceptional production. The striking costumes are by stylist Nicolas Vaudelet and no fewer than 11 designers, and the technical aspect is excellent, from the stage and set design to the lighting, shadow play, and all in between. Kudos to the repetiteurs and dance captains for maintaining the high standard of this slick show night after night, and to the stage management and backstage crews for enabling such smooth transformations from scene-to-scene.
The production is a combination of dining and theatre at its best – an explosion of colour and sparkle and a fabulous night out in the City of Lights!
“L… as in Luminous, I… as in Innovative, D… as in Delicious, O… as in Oh what magic !”
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(Please note there are topless dancers in the performance)