×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Broadway buys into French formula

Gallic musical 'Mozart' to be adapted for Rialto run

PARIS — While French films and TV skeins often spur international remakes, homegrown musicals seldom travel beyond the Gallic border. Dove Attia and Albert Cohen, who have produced five shows that have sold more than 7 million tickets domestically, are poised to change that.

The duo have licensed “Mozart, l’Opera Rock,” their most successful production, to nearly all major territories, including the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Canada, U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

In France, the $7.8 million show — which chronicles the life of the composer with a pop-rock score — played for three years, and grossed nearly $100 million from 1.5 million admissions. The soundtrack album has sold more than 750,000 units. Like Attia and Cohen’s other shows, “Mozart” is lavishly staged, featuring more than 400 costumes and large casts, and targets families and young, urban audiences.

Their new show, “1789: Les Amants de La Bastille,” bowed in Paris on Sept. 29, and has already grossed an estimated $12.3 million from sales of 190,000 tickets , as well as having shifted roughly 120,000 soundtrack albums.

Producers Gregory Young and Atanas Ilitch have acquired “Mozart” for all English-language territories, with playwright David Grimm (“Miracle at Naples”) and musical director Paul Gemignani (“The Mystery of Edwin Drood”) adapting the show for Broadway.

They admit some retooling is needed to fit the work to the expectations of U.S. auds.

“When the French write musicals, a lot of their songs are written like pop singles placed contiguous to each other, while on Broadway, it’s necessary to have a storyline and a semblance of relationship,” says Young, adding that Grimm has been bridging the period settings with a contempo sensibility.

One thing that intrigued Young when he first saw “Mozart” was that four or five of the songs got standing ovations even before they had been performed in a market that had not yet seen the show. He later found out those tunes had already topped the French pop chart. Young also was impressed to see that many in the audience came dressed as their favorite characters.

Such pre-show awareness is due to a business model that has proved highly effective for Attia, who overseas creative aspects, and Cohen, who handles business-related matters: They release the first single one year prior to a show’s opening, and bring out three more singles before it bows. The actual album comes out six months before a show opens.

Young and Ilitch are hoping for a New York bow in the spring of 2014.

Although they have to downsize the production for a smaller Broadway house — the French production, directed by Olivier Dahan, played the massive 4,000-seat Palais des Sports — the pair has licensed and acquired all the sets, costumes, staging and props of the original show for a possible touring rock opera if the musical is a hit.

“Mozart” isn’t the only show Attia and Cohen are grooming for global play. “Bastille” is presold to Arion Co. in South Korea, and, the producers say, has sparked interest from buyers in other territories, though they wouldn’t specify which ones.

Guillaume Lagorce, who’s been advising Attia and Cohen as well as negotiating the show’s worldwide licensing via his shingle GL Organisation, says the producers modeled “Bastille’s” narrative structure on Broadway tuners to make it more international, with a rock-pop score that can draw younger audiences than a typical Broadway tuner.

Attia and Cohen have also teamed with powerful media sponsors to promote and brand their shows. Leading French commercial network TF1 and radio station NRJ are co-producers on “Bastille.”

Next up, Cohen says, the duo are aiming to tie up with overseas partners to develop international co-productions.

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

  • A Very Expensive Poison review

    London Theater Review: 'A Very Expensive Poison'

    Vladimir Putin owes his power to the stage. The president’s closest advisor trained as a theatre director before applying his art to politics, and ran Russia like a staged reality, spinning so many fictions that truth itself began to blur. By scrambling the story and sowing confusion, Putin could exert absolute control. The long-awaited latest [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    Broadway Review: 'Betrayal' With Tom Hiddleston

    and Zawe Ashton as a long-married couple and Charlie Cox as the secret lover. Director Jamie Lloyd’s impeccable direction — now on Broadway, after a hot-ticket London run — strips Pinter’s 1978 play to its bare bones: the excruciating examination of the slow death of a marriage.  It’s a daring approach, leaving the characters nowhere [...]

  • Jayne Houdyshell arrives at the 71st

    'The Music Man' Revival Adds Four Tony Winners to Broadway Cast

    Tony Award-winners Jayne Houdyshell, Jefferson Mays, Marie Mullen and Shuler Hensley will join stars Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster in the upcoming Broadway revival of “The Music Man.” In “The Music Man,” Jackman will play con-man Harold Hill, who arrives in a small, fictional Iowa town called River City and urges the townsfolk to start [...]

  • Glen Basner Filmnation

    FilmNation's Glen Basner on Diversifying Beyond Movies by Focusing on Storytelling

    Glen Basner lives to make deals.  Be it Toronto or Cannes, Sundance or AFM, you’ll find the FilmNation founder in the throes of negotiations over pricing and marketing plans, schmoozing and working every angle to nail the best pact. Director Armando Iannucci, who worked with FilmNation on the upcoming “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content