Charles Aznavour Writes A Musical About Paris


Charles Aznavour and his son Nicolas. (Photo by Frank Rizzo)

Charles Aznavour and his son Nicolas. (Photo by Frank Rizzo)

After a career of more than 70 years and on the cusp of his 92nd birthday, the French singer-composer-actor Charles Aznavour is taking on his first American musical.

Of course, the subject is French: the artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec cavorting in the scandalous Montmartre district of Paris. And the show’s music brings the sound of Gallic authenticity.

But there are also major Broadway names attached to the work, titled “My Paris,” which opens at the Long Wharf Theater here this week, after a workshop production last year at Goodspeed Musicals.

Mr. Aznavour, a global star who wrote the score to “Lautrec,” an unsuccessful West End musical, 16 years ago, is joined this time by a fresh team of Tony-winning talent. Chief among its members are the director-choreographer Kathleen Marshall (“Anything Goes,” “The Pajama Game”) and the librettist Alfred Uhry (“Driving Miss Daisy” and the musicals “Parade” and “The Robber Bridegroom”). Jason Robert Brown (“Parade,” “The Bridges of Madison County”) has provided English lyrics and the musical arrangement.

From a downtown hotel room here, where he was staying during previews, Mr. Aznavour — dapper and diminutive — said creating a musical was no different from writing songs for himself.

“Writing is writing,” he said, giving a small shrug. “I can write on any subject. Just give me the first line, which is the most important.”

Mr. Aznavour was first approached to write a musical decades ago by the producer David Merrick, who asked him to compose the score for a show called “Moulin Rouge.”

But he said he “was not ready” to write a musical.