When I heard the local theatre was putting on a play set in Montmartre in Paris, my Francophile ears perked up like a nimble little bunny’s ears!
According to the playbill, Steve Martin wrote “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” in 1993, but this production would incorporate updates from his 2017 revival version.
Set in 1904, the play imagines the famous Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso and German-born theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein having a lively debate about what they think the 20th century will bring. Of course, each man thinks he will change the world with his art and science, respectively.
The pre-show announcer said over the PA system that the play would be performed in English and “without accents” like the French one he was affecting.
I’m not sure if Monsieur Martin wrote it that way or if creative license was used by the Altarena Playhouse in Alameda, California, a cozy theatre-in-the-round. Regardless, it worked for me – it was hilarious.
history of Lapin Agile Cabaret in Paris
Crispian Bakery, a small-batch bakery that produces French-inspired American breads and pastries in Alameda, provided refreshments with a suggested donation of $2 per item. I got a chocolate chip cookie with coffee and my daughter opted for a ginger cookie. She said it tasted like Christmas!
As we settled in, they played Pink Martini’s song, “Sympathique,” as well as accordion music. The sweet melody helped set the mood — it made me feel like I was in Paris!
The character, Sagot, snaps a photograph of his fellow bar patrons
Along with the leads, Asher Krohn (Picasso) and Peter Marietta (Einstein), my favorite performances were by Jean Cary, who played three roles (Suzanne; The Countess; Female Admirer).
Without spoiling the ending, I want to mention that I didn’t particularly enjoy the part toward the end when, after brief smoke and light effects, The Visitor, appears.
It was a bit cheesy visually, but I could grasp the social commentary being made: It was suggested that The Visitor, doing something less profound, would experience greater fame than either of the geniuses, Picasso and Einstein, despite their world-changing contributions!
The playwright promoting his play
Without a doubt, Steve Martin is a genius himself, with comedic acting roles, like one of the obnoxious Wild & Crazy Guys from Saturday Night Live and the likable Dad in the “Father of the Bride” and “Cheaper By the Dozen” movies.
He’s also a talented dramatic actor. In the 2001 dark comedy called “Novocaine,” Steve Martin portrays a dentist who leads an ordinary life until he is seduced by a patient. It’s one of my favorite films and not only because a couple of characters in the film move to France. I promise!
Although it doesn’t hurt having a French setting, like in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile”!
I visited Montmartre in May 2018. Can you spot the actual “Cabaret Au Lapin Agile”?
Have you seen any good plays lately? Do you like Steve Martin movies and plays? Tell me in the comments below!
Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris. A big Thank You to Carolyn of Hawkfeather Stories who found this vintage postcard in a little thrift shop and sent it to me.
This postcard is almost 100 years old and it’s in excellent condition
When construction began in the late 19th century, this basilica broke tradition. While other basilicas being built at the time were dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Notre-Dame) in the cities of Lyon, Lourdes, and Marseille, this basilica in Paris was dedicated to the Sacred Heart (Sacré-Cœur).
The first time I’d seen the Sacré-Cœur, it was from a distance. I was on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. Back then, I’d had limited time in Paris and couldn’t visit the famous basilica. I told myself that I would come back to explore Montmartre one day!
So when I was planning the itinerary for my return trip, I allocated one full day to Montmartre. It was such a leisurely day: walking around the winding cobblestone streets, popping in and out of souvenir shops, eating only dessert foods, and taking in the sights and sounds of the area.
Le Clos Montmartre
Opened in 1933, this is the oldest vineyard in Paris!
Rue de l’Abreuvoir:
One of France’s most beloved singers, Dalida, lived in Montmartre for 25 years before her death on May 3, 1987. I didn’t know it at the time, but I took these pictures of her statue exactly 31 years later on May 3, 2018. What a strange coincidence!
At the Place du Tertre, the silhouette artist told me to sit on the stool and to look “over there” – his hand gesturing to the Sacré-Cœur dome.
It was meditative as I held my pose. I remember clearing my mind and focusing on my breathing.
Before I knew it, the talented artist had completed the silhouette of my new hat and me!
Sounds of Montmartre
Here are two short video clips I filmed:
Finally, I got to see the white-domed beauty that is the basilica up close! Inside, it was dim, with only soft flickers of votive candlelight. There were two gift shops, but they were located off to the side and far away from the nave so they wouldn’t distract people praying in the pews. There were “no-photography” signs, but apparently many of us translated them to mean, “No DSLRs, but phones are OK.” So, here is my one photo of the inside. I quickly snapped it while I was sitting in the back: “I pray for my family, friends, and I am grateful for this trip and everything.”
When construction began in the late 19th century, this basilica broke tradition in a way. While other basilicas being built at the time were dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Notre-Dame) in the cities of Lyon, Lourdes, and Marseille, this basilica in Montmartre was dedicated to the Sacred Heart (Sacré-Cœur).
Originally, I bought a hat on the way over here due to a bad hair day. Little did I know the Hemingway fedora would come in so handy. It was hot on the steps of Sacré-Cœur, but it was not too bad considering the breathtaking view! And this time, I was at Sacré-Cœur looking at the Eiffel Tower from a distance!
As I snacked on a clementine and nectarine that I picked up earlier from a grocer on Rue Lamarck, I could see other landmarks, like the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Montparnasse Tower, dotting the horizon.
Le Funiculaire de Montmartre
Since I had a Navigo Découverte pass, I knew I could ride the funicular unlimited times! So I rode the funicular up, down, and back up again.
When I got to the top, I decided to walk down. Along the way, I counted 214 steps, give or take!
Then, I rode the funicular back up again…
All that funicular-riding, step-counting, and selfie-taking drained my and my phone’s energy! As I wandered along, I discovered a Supermarché G20. It was like an oasis in the desert…
“La Vie en rose” means life as seen through rose-colored glasses. It’s also the title of Édith Piaf’s signature song, which was first released in the late 1940’s. Since then, the tune has been covered numerous times. The song has also been featured in many popular films (Sabrina; Natural Born Killers; WALL-E) and TV shows (I Love Lucy; How I Met Your Mother). My favorite renditions are by Louis Armstrong and Patricia Kaas.
But now I have two more favorite versions. I recently had the pleasure of hearing two live performances of « La Vie en rose » – on accordion and violin!
You know how in other places some performers have their instrument case open to collect tips? Well, these two performers didn’t do that, at least, from what I could tell. I got the impression they were playing simply for the joy of it.
Here is a 9-second clip I filmed near Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre:
…and here is a 13-second clip I filmed on Pont des Arts:
I feel so lucky I got to hear them play this song in particular. It made me feel like I was in a movie. The timeless song has the power to seduce romantics and cynics alike.
While wandering around Montmartre, I came across a Supermarché G20. I desperately needed to charge my phone and figured I, too, could use a quick pick-me-up to recharge. I noticed they were piping in music from the pop radio station, Chérie FM, and in between bites of my tiramisu, I found myself asking, “Siri, what song is this?” Her responses were: