The Théâtre Mogador joins Haussmann Paris
Laurent Bentata is the managing director of Stage Entertainment, the company which owns and runs the Théâtre Mogador. To mark the fact that the theatre is joining the Haussmann Paris Committee, he was nice enough to answer our questions…
How do you usually go on presenting a theatre that has more than 100 years of history and several lives behind it?
Well, first, the théâtre Mogador ranks among Paris’s biggest theatres, as there aren’t that many venues that can host that many people after all : the average capacity is around 300 to 500 seats, to compare with the 1600 at Mogador. I wouldn’t be entirely unbiased if I said that Mogador is also one of the most beautiful, after its full restoration in 2006. Finally, it distinguishes itself thanks to the Anglo-Saxon culture of the musical show that has been a key part of the theatre’s identity for a century now – we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the opening last year. Ever since 1919, when an impresario from London’s West End created the venue, every owner who succeeded each other has perpetuated this Anglo-Saxon culture of the musical. We’re used to saying that Mogador is the temple of the musical, a word that we transposed from English to French, the same way we do in the other countries where the Stage Entertainment group is present : das Musical in Germany, il Musicale in Italy… In Paris, we proudly claim this unique positioning and that’s important, I think, at a time when a lot of Parisian theatres have decided to adopt what I call a “garage” strategy, with no derogatory connotation, which consists in hosting all types of shows indiscriminately. By only hosting shows who share the same aesthetic, that of the musical, we’re identified in our microcosm and, more importantly, by our spectators who can only think “Mogador is the temple of the musical”.
Why did you choose to join the Haussmann Paris Committee in 2020?
By becoming a part of the Haussmann Paris Committee, we wanted to assert ourselves and stand up to say that a theatre is a beacon in the life of a neighborhood. We’re lucky enough to be located in a pretty exceptional neighborhood, which benefits from the incredible attraction of the Grands Magasins, which are monuments as much as they are stores at this point, shining their lights all around the world and luring in a substantial flow of tourists. We’re also lucky enough to attract tourists ourselves, because our shows are great international shows that we adapt to French. Take The Lion King, for example, that we had to push back to September 2021 because of the pandemic: it’s being played all around the world. Mogador also takes an active part in the life of the neighborhood, and we realized that when we had to close down for a year after a stat of fire (note from the editor: in 2016/2017) : the stores, cafés and restaurants around us came to tell us that they had greatly suffered from our absence… To join the Haussmann Paris Committee is a way to take an even more active part in this neighborhood life that’s crucial, both for local residents and the many non-residents who walk around it every day. It’s vital for us to exchange views with our neighbors about issues that we often share: cleanliness, area animation… We’ve got to invest in order to instill more life to the neighborhood and that’s pretty much our DNA – joining the Haussmann Paris Committee will allow us to do it even better.
Well precisely, how do you imagine the neighborhood in a few years time, and what role would you want Mogador to play in it?
To answer this question, you have to tackle it with the prism of the evolution of retail, since the Haussmann are is one of the world’s biggest open-air shopping malls… Retail is changing to become more of an experience, by creating cultural content, street animations, and our neighborhood needs to benefit from that kind of expansions. We don’t lack ideas and the Mayor of the 9th Arrondissement, Delphine Bürkli, has been an active support, working very well to help us implement those changes: we could imagine, tomorrow, seeing a pedestrian-only Rue Mogador, all the time or occasionally, or animations offered by the theater to the cafés and restaurants around… The company could walk out Mogador to enliven the neighborhood, and why couldn’t we consider organizing a street theater festival on the streets? Because if the neighborhood is very active, intense during the day, there isn’t anything left open besides the theaters and restaurants at night. Apart from using the theater and its talents to instill life to the area, we see our theater as a welcoming place, and one of our ambitions is to turn the théâtre Mogador into a place where people live, exchanges views, do things together. More than 5000 people showed up for the open house we organized around Lion King, and more than 2000 for local heritage day. Our calling is to welcome people to the theater, including when nothing artistic is going on, as well as letting some of that art express itself outside our walls.
The next musical scheduled at the théâtre Mogador, Le Roi Lion (adaptation of the Broadway classic The Lion King, has been pushed back to September 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. More information on theatremogador.com
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