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Martin Guerre


Musique: Claude-Michel Schonberg
Paroles: Alain Boublil • Claude-Michel Schonberg • Edward Hardy • Herbert Kretzmer
Livret: Alain Boublil • Claude-Michel Schonberg

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Disons-le tout de suite, Martin Guerre est l'une de nos œuvres favorites. Pourquoi? On n'a même pas envie d'y réfléchir. C'est une œuvre à la fois intime et puissante. La musique est prodigieuse, les paroles sont toujours justes et proches de ce que l'on peut avoir de mieux au théâtre. La scénographie était simple mais soutenait l'œuvre de bout en bout. Un grand musical populaire de qualité, notre référence.

When first approached by Schönberg and Boublil, Cameron Mackintosh, who had produced their earlier works, expressed little interest in producing the project as it existed. Only after several dramatic revisions, in which the character of Guerre became more heroic and greater emphasis was placed on the theme of religious intolerance, did he become enthusiastic about its potential.

London (1996-1998)
Six years in the making, Mackintosh's $6 million West End production, directed by Declan Donnellan and choreographed by Bob Avian, with lyrics by Edward Hardy, opened on July 10, 1996 at the Prince Edward Theatre. It was a spectacular production, but not only were the reviews mixed, there were also some major concerns expressed by the public and the creative team alike. In the early weeks, the creative team worked hard and quickly to clarify the narrative, rearrange some of the material, and remove one pretty, but nonessential song.
The mostly brutal reviews prompted the producer to examine carefully all the problems and take dramatic action to fix them. While the cast continued to perform the show, the creative team - now augmented by additional lyricist Clark - virtually rewrote it, adding new scenes and songs, shortening the overly long beginning, providing a happier ending, and shifting the focus to Bertrande. In order to make more radical changes, the show closed from October 28–31, 1996, and the production was completely revised. This revised version opened after a week of previews on November 11, 1996. The critical response was significantly improved, and the revised show went on to win the 1997 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical and Best Choreography.
In June 1997 some further changes were made to the production to coincide with the cast change. The production closed on February 28, 1998 after 675 performances.

UK Tour (1999)
The West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds was the new home for a completely rewritten version of Martin Guerre. The Artistic Director Jude Kelly invited the writers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg to rework their musical there, and in a co-production between The West Yorkshire Palyhouse and Cameron Mackintosh, Martin Guerre opened on December 8, 1998. The libretto was rewritten extensively, a number of new songs were added, and many of the original tunes were retitled, repositioned, and/or were given new lyrics. The physical production was trimmed considerably to make it more intimate and less blockbuster. In addition, the logo was changed from the original red to a black background.
It then embarked on a national tour which ended in Bristol on August 7, 1999 after 227 performances. The tour also played Newcastle, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Norwich, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Llandudno, Nottingham and Plymouth.

US Tour (1999-2000)
The North American premiere was at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis on September 29, 1999, for an 8-week engagement. The Artistic Director Joe Dowling welcomed the opportunity for a co-production between the Guthrie Theater and Cameron Mackintosh so that Martin Guerre could be fine-tuned for its first American audience.
There was some more reworking for this production. Some musical numbers were moved and there was a general softening of the village characters to make them more likable and more individualized. According to Mackintosh "Forty percent of the current material was not in the original." The production starred Hugh Panaro, Erin Dilly and Stephen R. Buntrock in the US tour in 1999-2000. The tour played Minneapolis, Detroit, Washington, Seattle and Los Angeles.
A planned Broadway opening never materialized.

Denmark (1999-2000)
A licensed production of Martin Guerre opened at the Odense Theater in Denmark on December 30, 1999 and it ran until March 6, 2000.

Newbury (2007)
A revival of the musical at the Watermill Theatre near Newbury, England, ran in July 2007. There was a company of 12 actor/musicians, starring Andrew Bevis and directed by Craig Revel Horwood. Based largely on the London version that had premiered in November 1996, there were further lyrical changes, and "Live With Somebody You Love" from the touring version was inserted into the score. This production made one central change to the premise of the previous versions of the musical; Bertrande does not (appear to) know that the imposter is not her returning husband until the court scene in act 2. The character of Martin was made far more hostile in this version. This production also had more spoken dialogue, a conscious decision made by the composers, who reworked the show whilst they were in rehearsals for The Pirate Queen.

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