· Posted: 22 Apr 2005 05:01
The taping of the French-language company was never broadcast. I don't know if it was meant to be merely archival or if in fact it was footage for the never-released DVD that Richard refers to, but it's also a professional-level taping.
I was lucky enough to see both versions a while back. Here are the differences:
Since the Dutch version WAS for broadcast, it was shot widescreen. There are a few added video effects (i.e. computer generated bats for Tarragon's descent into the tomb) and a lot of transitional fat has been stripped away (i.e. the kind of brief scene that gets written to cover a set change). It also correctly dispenses with the giddy waltz between Calculus and Tarragon (a sweeping melody but a total "stage wait" in which nothing happens) and a little bit of reprise material. It's about 15 or 20 minutes shorter than the actual show, but nothing of consequence is cut and the result only makes the experience tighter, cleaner and better paced. And of the two casts (Dutch and French) the Dutch is by far the more interesting and witty. Actually, in part because theirs is such a consonant-centric language -- as opposed to French, which is more "about" the vowels -- they evince a much more American sensibility about musical theatre in re: timing/characterization/movement ... and for all its Euro credentials, the Tintin musical takes a very traditional, very craftsmanlike American musical theatre approach -- which is why it works so well -- so they just bond more organically with the material. (It also pays to note that the show was originally WRITTEN in Dutch. Ironically another writer was engaged to ADAPT IT into French.)
The French cast is broader, by degrees a bit less charismatic, role for role, and has more the feel of a road company. Not surprising, as this is virtually the same production with a replacement cast stepping in. (With one exception: Tarragon is the same actor in each. Actually, Castafiore was the same too, but the French language taping features her "matinee alternate.") They're all very decent, though, and the show survives handily (even if it sounds a bit less natural in song, owing to the differences in language cadence as set to the original sung-in-Dutch music). For some reason the taping is fullscreen, not widescreen, and the video director is less clever about where to position the camera, what to shoot and how to time cuts from one shot to another. As screened, it represented the entire show, unedited. If this WAS to be the basis of the DVD it would have been very nice, but a disappointment for any who had seen the superior Canal + broadcast in Dutch.
To clarify something in Richard's post (for those who may not know the history), the show was not pulled before its WORLD premiere. It opened successfully in Antwerp and Charleroi. It was ... well, it wasn't even PULLED, really, it was CANCELLED before its scheduled Paris premiere (for the creative team that was to be the equivalent of a Broadway opening after out-of-town tryouts), when big money financing pulled out, as a new theatre was being renovated for the production. With the capitalization gone, it all fell apart.