Is Martin Guerre a candidate for the show with the most revisions without ever yet fulfilling its potential? Perhaps not, but there was a time during the late 1990s where there always seemed to be a new version of the show trotted out by Cameron Mackintosh. With a score by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (with contributions by Stephen Clark), the show tried its best to deliver what was expected of a Boublil-Schönberg collaboration: an epic production accompanied by an epic score. What just about everyone involved seems to have missed is that the story of Martin Guerre is not an epic story in the way that Les Misérables is or one that has its roots in an operatic tradition like Miss Saigon. What it is, is a rather personal tale about identity and relationships and the show does not ever get the balance right between that personal story and the epic backdrop thrust upon it to allow Martin Guerre to achieve the same sense of theatrical grandeur offered by the previous Boublil-Schönberg shows. In other words, Mr Mackintosh, next time you want to revive the show, get the team to focus on the content, not the form. Perhaps that will be the key to unlocking the success of Martin Guerre. In the meantime, for this Christmas, I’ve posted a song that appears in the original version, but not in the revised production: a carol of sorts, “Bethlehem”. Enjoy it and ponder what Martin Guerre might have been.
Got a special Martin Guerre memory? Head on down to the comment box.
Purchases from Amazon.com
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. Martin Guerre Original Version Cast Recording CD. 2. Martin Guerre Revised Version Cast Recording CD. 3. Hey Mr Producer CD with extracts from Martin Guerre. 4. Forbidden Broadway Cast Recording CD with parody of Martin Guerre.