when Thomas Jolly comes to town

The return of starmaniafrom November 8 at La Seine musicale (Paris), forty years after the creation of the rock opera by Michel Berger and Luc Plamondon, arouses in Thomas Jolly the fever of expectation. “In this home stretch, what we still lack is the public. I need it ! »exclaims the director, who wonders. “Are they going to clap? At what moment ? Will they sing? This is the longest gestation of my life. For three years that we have been refining, we are still missing life. The live performance is above all this astonishing moment when you give birth in front of everyone and when something alive comes out and finds its way. »

The Covid-19 pandemic has twice delayed this return from starmania, of which Raphaël Hamburger, son of France Gall and Michel Berger, is at the origin. The blockbuster scheduled for 2020 has seen its costs explode, with a bill that already amounts to 7 million euros. Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, who finances it via his company Fimalac Entertainment, did not skimp on the means, with Thomas Jolly on the stage, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui on the choreography, Nicolas Ghesquière on the costumes, 35 artists on stage, and monumental sets that will have to be transported on tour with around twenty trucks.

Prolific figure in public theater

While waiting to sing “SOS for an Earthling in distress”, “One against the other”, “Need love” or “The world is stoned”, Thomas Jolly has not been idle. In January 2022, he created at the Quai, the National Dramatic Center of Angers which he directs, The Dragon, a Russian fable by Yevgeny Schwartz. The actor, director, creator of the La Piccola Familia company, also staged in June, in Angers, a monumental adaptation of the plays Henry VI and Richard IIIby Shakespeare, which he premiered at the 2014 Avignon Festival: a 24-hour performance!

Coming from the public theatre, of which he has been one of the most outstanding figures for several years, stimulates him to recreate a popular show which has already brought together six million spectators during its multiple versions in France and Quebec, since its creation, in 1979, with France Gall, Daniel Balavoine, Diane Dufresne, Fabienne Thibeault… then Maurane in 1988. He set himself a challenge, in an unprecedented register that goes beyond the usual partitioning between public and private stages: “I have to make an artistic gesture that shows starmania in all its popular and demanding work force. »

He is delighted to play it for a long time, in many places and in front of a large audience., relying on “on performers with very strong vocal signatures who give the characters their human singularity”. Thomas Jolly reconstructed the libretto with Luc Plamondon for “to restore to history the original spirit of the work”somewhat overshadowed by the power of the songs. “They are so legendary that they overshadow the plot. We wanted to put her back at the center of the narrative. »

There ” proposal of the century »

For the director, “the plot of starmania is Shakespearian in the sense that it puts simple words to complex human feelings: melancholy, boredom, the meaning of existence, the desire for glory, the emptiness of life…everything you find in Richard III ». The prophetic dimension of the rock opera, which ends with an attack on the tallest tower in the West, also fascinated him. starmania has a dimension of world work that unfolds in an epic way, humanly and musically speaking. There is also this futuristic city which it was important for me to give substance to. »

Thomas Jolly is not done with extraordinary artistic adventures: the whole world will be his audience during the four opening and closing ceremonies of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, for which he has just been chosen as artistic director. with the agreement of President Macron. “It’s the proposal of the century! I am in such joy that I cannot express the honor, the pride and the feeling of power that this nomination gives me”, exults Thomas Jolly. Exalted by this chance “unique for an artist”he is already overflowing with ideas to thought “to use the Seine as a stage and the monuments of Paris as a backdrop to carry the voice of France and welcome the whole world”.

“A show is a great reconciliation” : Thomas Jolly quotes this maxim of Louis Jouvet. ” What’s going on, he adds, when a curtain rises? We are alive, all in the same place, at the same time, and each one, with his reading of the world, his way of thinking, all different, we are part of a society. »


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