by Jane Rosenstein
This musical ETE 44 , playing at the Comedian Theatre in Paris, is a very moving musical about some young French people in Normandy seeking to avoid being captured by the Nazis. It shows how the civilians were frightened and had to escape.
When we arrived at the theater we were greeted by hostesses wearing replicas of WWII uniforms.
The music for the play was composed by famous composers including Charles Aznavor whom CNN in 1998 called “the greatest artist of the century;”
The play opens with a scene from a basement where three women are hiding; They are scared of being found and later leave the basement walking long distances to seek refuge in another place in France but they do not know where to go.
The cast sings and dances with enthusiasm. A large screen provides the translation of the French songs into English.
The actors and actresses performed well and with sincerity.
Alice Raucoules as Yvonne 23 years old, the eldest of the group, a nurse and midwife is the leader of the group and falls in love with Willy O ‘ Brien whom she meets at a bar the group stops at seeking shelter.
Barbara Pravi as Solonge ,21 years old , a friend of Yvonne’s who is also hiding in the basement. Being sensitive, she has trouble accepting the occupation of the Nazis.
Sara -Lane Roberts as Rose-Marie , 18 years old, worked as a hairdresser when she met Yvonns; She does not accept the dangers of the War and goes out to meet a German soldier called Hans.
Nichola Laurent, 19 years old ,plays Petit René ( Little René). He helped his father at a farm in France before the outbreak of the War. He is Yvonne’s cousin.He helps the group by going out and bring them news of the development of WWII and delivers the mail; René decides to help France by joining the army and going to the insurrection in Paris; The others are very concerned about his welfare;
Tomislav Matosin as Willy O’Brien plays an American soldier from Memphis. He was going to the landing in Normandy when he meets Yvonne and her friends Solange and Rose-Marie at the bar; He falls in love with Yvonne;
Philippe Kriere as Hans Spiegel from Stutgardt is a German soldier who was captured by the Allies and serves as an interpreter.
The voices were suburb and the dancing was great.
The play is at the Comediia on Sunday March 26, then goes to Caen in France. It will return to Paris in September.
Ete 44 was a spectacular play.