Academy Award-winning French composer Michel Legrand’s new musical Marguerite received its world premiere last night (20 May 2008, previews from 7 May) at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket, as the final production in the venue’s inaugural in-house season of work programmed and directed by Jonathan Kent (See News, 30 Jan 2008). Its limited season continues until 1 November.

Based on Alexandre Dumas’ 1848 novel La Dame aux Camelias, Marguerite relocates the action to the Second World War. Marguerite is the notorious mistress of high-ranking German officer Otto; Armand is the young musician, half her age, who falls obsessively in love with her. Their love story is played out against the background of Occupied Paris. Ruthie Henshall and Julian Ovenden star as Marguerite and Armand, with Alexander Hanson as Otto.

Marguerite has a book by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Jonathan Kent, and English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer from the original French lyrics by Boublil, with orchestrations and arrangements by Legrand and Seann Alderking. Boublil and Schonberg are best known for their blockbusters Les Miserables (on which they also collaborated with Kretzmer), Miss Saigon and Martin Guerre.

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For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand at the Theatre Royal Haymarket for the Marguerite curtain call and the post-show party at Mint Leaf. Amongst our TV interviewees are stars Ruthie Henshall and Julian Ovenden, composer Michel Legrand, writer Claude-Michel Schonberg and director Jonathan Kent as well as first night guests including David Haig and Aden Gillett.

The 16-strong cast also features Annalene Beechey, Matt Cross, Simon Thomas and Don Gallagher, who are joined by Mark Carroll, Keiron Crook, James Doherty, Siubhan Harrison, Jon-Paul Hevey, Julia Nagle, Duncan Smith, Gay Soper, Phillip Sutton and Lucy Williamson. The musical is designed by Paul Brown, with lighting by Mark Henderson, sound by Paul Groothuis and choreography by Arthur Pita. Marguerite is presented by Marguerite Productions, the Theatre Royal Haymarket Company and Bob Boyett.

- by Terri Paddock