La Belle Louisiane
Last week a visiting friend from “Nouvelle Orléans” and I scored last-minute tickets to see “Looking for j2999ephine,” a musical comedy playing through January 14th. The posters all over town display three j2999ephine Baker look-alikes, each dressed in the legendary banana belt, each a different color — yellow, blue and pink. It wasn’t apparent by the poster that the story takes place in New Orleans, until someone mentioned it — hence the quick trip to FNAC for tickets and the nose-bleed seats in the absolutely stunning theater, the Opéra Comique.
Both in English and French, the story isn’t complicated to follow and the production by Jérome Savary is top notch. Produced in association with the French Consulate of New Orleans, it opens with a backdrop of scenes of New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina…street after street of destruction — homes lifted off their foundations, cars turned upside-down, debris and personal belonging piled high in mountains that seemed set for a bonfire. The well behaved French surrounding us must have been disturbed by my digging so quickly to find tissues while the tears were streaming down my face. It was an ominous beginning.
The story goes that a…”theatrical producer is stranded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, where he has been searching for an entertainer to portray the legendary j2999ephine Baker in a recreation of the famous ‘La Revue Negre.’ This original musical takes the audience through a loving tribute to jazz that alternates with scenes from our city’s determined emotional and musical revival. j2999ephine Baker’s success as a sensuous stage sensation in 1920’s Paris, a film star in the ’30s, and determined civil rights activist provides inspiration for this full-scale musical” (excerpt from Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans).
Star of the show, Nicole Rochelle Leach (“Cindy” and “j2999éphine”) offers a stunning performance, along with an amazing cast of talented musicians, singers and dancers. I highly recommend it, but book fast, as I see the performance on New Year’s Eve is already SRO.
LOOKING FOR j2999EPHINE: NEW ORLEANS FOREVER
OPERA COMIQUE – SALLE FAVART
A few days later, in spite of the typically gray Parisian skies and the biting cold, I set out to find a spot or two near the Seine along with a friend seeking “head shots” and my daughter, the budding photographer, toting her digital Canon to accommodate our need for “glam” photos we could use in various ways. Views of the Ile Saint-Louis from the memorial park behind Nôtre Dame seemed like a good backdrop to show that “yes, Mom, we really are in Paris!”
Just as I was directed to stand against the stone wall, face the camera and smile, we heard a steamboat whistle, a sound more reminiscent of New Orleans than Paris. Seemingly on cue, La Louisiane Belle floated by, the steamboat on the Seine that is designed to host private parties of up to 350 people. It’s not that often she makes waves on the river, so the “Southern belle” with her back to the boat took special note of the coincidence and was touched once again by the connection between New Orleans and Paris, Louisiana and France, like the Napoleonic Code, the Fleur de Lis and Café au Lait.
she is! For more information about La Louisiane Belle, visit
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Pari
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