Life resumes its normal course for the distribution of Notre Dame de Paris. Well almost. Quebecers Robert Marien and Richard Charest returned to the stage in Seoul, Korea, for the first time since the start of the pandemic … in front of masked spectators.
The first curtain-raiser on Tuesday evening was particularly emotional for the Notre Dame de Paris. Not only was this their first performance since the COVID-19 outbreak, they hadn’t been back on stage since the show’s original producer, Charles Talar, passed away. “We dedicated the show. This excitement was channeled well into the show, everything went really well. We were so happy to have an audience in front of us, ”says Robert Marien, on the phone.
The troupe, which left its bags in Korea until mid-January, relies on the talent of three Quebec artists: Robert Marien (Frollo), Richard Charest (Gringoire) and José Dufour, understudy for these two characters. A handful of members of the technical team are also from La Belle Province.
The public was already numerous this week. The area where the performance hall is located – the Blue Square Interpark Hall – is classified as “category 1”, allowing the amphitheater with some 1,750 seats to be “practically full”, according to Robert Marien.
However, several protocols have been put in place to ensure everyone’s safety. Thus, the temperature of each spectator is taken upon their arrival on the scene and masks are compulsory at all times, even during the performance.
” It’s particular. Usually, as soon as the music starts, you get screaming. But since people are all masked, they react much less vocally. It creates a silence that is almost religious, ”notes Robert Marien.
As for the artists, they too must comply with different requirements.
From the moment they leave the hotel where they are staying, they have their body temperature taken four times before reaching the stage where they will perform. Parties and dinners with friends are obviously prohibited, as are autograph signatures that usually follow the shows.
Robert Marien also adds that he has had to undergo seven tests for COVID-19 since the beginning of October.
“That’s what it takes. It may seem spartan, but it’s a small price to pay in order to be able to continue to practice our profession, ”he believes.