'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg' the stage musical is based on one of the most romantic musical films of the 1960s. Released in 1964, the film of the same name is noted for being a French film that is a musical that is all sung. Starring Catherine Deneuve the film was nominated for five Oscars including Best Foreign Language Film. It also received a nominations for writing and for "I Will Wait For You" from the film's soundtrack.
Story is about a twenty-year-old French auto mechanic named Guy Fouchier (Andrew Durand) who has fallen in love with 17-year-old Genevieve Emery (Carly Bawden), an employee in her widowed mother's chic umbrella shop. On the evening before Guy is to leave for a two-year tour of combat in Algeria, he and Genevieve vow to remain lovers. After discovering she is carrying Guy's child she must choose between waiting for his return or accepting an offer of marriage from a wealthy diamond merchant.
In The Guardian, Michael Billington wrote:
Suspiciously thin would be my verdict on this stage version adapted and directed by Emma Rice for Kneehigh. The Michel Legrand score still offers its fitful pleasures, and the bittersweet ending is retained; but it seems an oddly gratuitous translation of a highly successful film into theatrical terms.
What is lost are the very things that made the film so original. One is the way in which the fluid camera movement matched the seamless recitative of the Legrand score: take that away, and you are left with a show that, with the exception of "I Will Wait For You," seems strangely lacking in musical or dramatic highlights. The other missing ingredient is the candy-colored artifice of the film, in which even the wallpaper matched the characters' costumes.
Watching the stage version is like seeing a Technicolor film rendered in black and white: Les Brotherston's set, with its partitioned steel structures, seems determined to evoke the reality of Cherbourg, whereas the point of the story is that it is a romantic fairytale.
A previous stage version was presented in London in a different short-lived production at the Phoenix Theatre in 1979. The song "I Will Wait You" has been recorded by many artists including Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darrin, Tony Bennett and Liza Minnelli.
The producers of the show cite economic reasons for the early closing. The musical opened at London's Gielgud Theatre on March 22, 2011 (after previews from March 5) and will close on May 21, 2011. Show was originally booking to October 1, 2011. More info at umbrellasofcherbourg.com.