Paris by Night
by Curt Columbus
originally produced at Trinity Rep,
through June 1, 2008
Set in Paris in 1960, Paris by Night is a jazz musical that follows two couples: Sam, an African American tattoo artist, who falls in love with a young American soldier named Buck, and a French chanteuse named Marie who is the object of affection for two other American soldiers, Frank and Patrick. The piece is stylistically evocative of American musicals of the 1950s and 1960s, meant to capture the naïve tone of the time, while dealing with issues of race and sexual identity in a straightforward, unvarnished manner.
I believe that theater, as an art form, has the unique power to build community through shared experiences and public conversation. I also believe that dialogue around complicated issues can best be encouraged by taking audiences on theatrical journeys that place them outside of themselves where they can consider such issues from a fresh perspective. An entertaining and seemingly simple story of forbidden love, Paris by Night will ask audiences to think about the forces that bring people together and those that keep them apart.
Paris by Night is designed as a chamber musical for a repertory theater, which is to say that it is of modest cast size and technical complexity and intended to be performed by actors who can sing, rather than singers who try to act. As an artistic director, I’m well aware of the challenges in programming musicals in regional theaters, and my collaborators and I are developing Paris by Night as a work that can be produced with limited resources in intimate venues.