Earlier this week I posted photo of Roman Polanski in da house on my FB page. The question is, which house? Certainly not mine, I am not any where near cool enough to have a guest list like that. Non, earlier this week I had the honor of being invited back stage for the rehearsals of Le Bal des Vampires at the Mogador theater.
Le Bal was originally The Fearless Vampire Killers, a 1967 movie starring, written and directed by Roman. It was while on set for the film he met his future wife, Sharon Tate, who was later slaughtered by Charles Manson. And while tragedy enshrouds the reality, the movie is actually a comic satire of the vampire genre.
The film took the Vienna stage in 1997 and has just completed a 10 year tour in Germany. When it was announced that the sets were being packed up and 18 semi trucks would be taking the autobahn for France, M Polanski announced that he would be doing the directing for the Paris stage.
His dubious history not with standing, M Polanski is an impressive man, energy whirling through his body and the space around him. The French journalists were mesmerised by his presence, hounding him for photos like tweens in a room with One Direction.
After the introductions, we were taken to a series of studios. First we meet the makeup artist and her crew, busy trimming, curling, coiffing and baking real hair wigs for the show. I was amazed they were able to get such long hair that wasn’t synthetic to work with. She pointed out that humans aren’t the only beings who grow hair. Horse manes will do! And the teeth, oh, the teeth. Some actors have up to three sets of fangs, depending on their roles.And while the main actors will have assistance applying their make-up, the chorus will have become experts at drawing blood.
We met the stage director who explained that this was the most intricate production ever performed in France, with 22 tons of equipment filling every available nook and cranny, the writer who adapted the lyrics into French (I so want his job for French shows!), and the costume handlers.
Then, we were taken to the bar. Yipee, drinks! But no, there was something more going on, for lack of space, the theater bar area has been converted into a rehearsal space for the dancers. As we entered, the original NY choreographer, John Carrafa, was ruling a mob of vampires rising from their chair-slash-tombstones, their voices vibrating through our being, their sharp teeth surprising us in the modern context. The actors rehearse with their teeth, so they can learn to sing without slurring, or drooling anything other than blood. They also work 6 days a week, with rehearsals running to 11pm, acclimating their bodies to show time! It was an extraordinary ten minutes, listening to the song written by Michael Kunze of Phantom fame. His signature gothic sound familiar, yet new.
We were soon dragged out, our guide threatening us with garlic if we didn’t hurry. It was into an elevator, past a voice room, beyond a gym, and into a large, neon lit room. Before us, an awkward pile of pipes and planks, a bathtub, a piano and actors going through their lines as Roman Polanski looked intently on. What a privilege to watch the man at work. Every detail being vamped and re-vamped, with minute precision.
If you’d like to see this spooktacular production, it will be going un-live at the Theater Mogador Oct 16. Just in time for Halloween!
For more images from the visit, check out my FB page.