5th Republic (musical)

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Template:Italic title 5th Republic is an American musical featuring music by Dana Levinson, lyrics by Dana Levinson and Stacey Weingarten, book by Stacey Weingarten and additional story by Donna Drake. It is an update of Victor Hugo's Notre-Dame de Paris. 5th Republic resets the story to 1958–59 Paris, against the backdrop of the Algerian War of Independence, Charles de Gaulle's return to power, and the founding of the Fifth Republic.


5th Republic is the fever dream of a former French activist named René Deschamps. On the fifth anniversary of the end of the Algerian War for Independence, he looks back with both fondness and regret at the time he spent with Layla Bouazid, the woman he loved above all else. Layla would sacrifice everything to be with René, but in the end, what was it all for? 5th Republic speaks to the modern barriers that still divide us, and embraces the grey that exists in all world conflict.


René Deschamps is an amalgam of Pierre Gringoire, Phoebus de Chateaupers, Quasimodo, and Jehan Frollo. René is the narrator of the story and a former French activist. He is a Pied-Noir from Sétif, Algeria. As an adult, René moves to Paris. There he works for the Jeanson network aiding the Algerian cause. In Paris he meets and falls deeply in love with an Algerian refugee named Layla. Throughout play the character shifts between a jaded/falling apart René as the narrator circa 1967, and the idealistic/naïve René circa 1958.

Layla Bouazid is based solely on Esmeralda. Layla is an orphaned refugee from Sétif, Algeria. Her father was one of the founding members of the FLN, however he was arrested and executed in 1957 during the Battle of Algiers. She has been sent by FLN leadership to Paris to aid in rallying Algerians there. Layla is a dancer and bartender in a Monmartre club that serves as a front for the FLN. She has a magnetic charisma. Layla is deeply committed to Algerian Independence but becomes torn between the cause and her love for René. Layla is strong willed and often does what she wants despite repercussions.

Étienne Deschamps is based solely on Claude Frollo. He is a retired French soldier turned politician and René's older brother. He sees the world in black and white, French versus Algerian. He has been a right wing crusader and is strongly opposed to Algerian Independence. When Charles de Gaulle begins to waffle on the issue, he aids in recruiting like minded individuals to La Main Rouge.

Vivienne Godaire is based solely on Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier. Vivienne is nightclub singer rising in popularity. She is the epitome of Bourgeoisie; elegant, sophisticated. Vivienne is polite on the surface but vindictive underneath. She is engaged to René, and when she discovers his relationship with Layla, she proves to be a perfect chess piece for Étienne to play with.

Mohamed Benabderrahmane is based solely on Clopin Trouillefou. He is the manager of the Middle Eastern-themed hotel and bar "Le Hoggar" in Monmartre where Layla works and FLN activities take place. He is resentful of how quickly and easily Layla has risen through the FLN ranks due to her family name. This often leads to the two butting heads, sometimes with disastrous results.

Ghazala Saïdi is a surrogate mother-figure to Layla, as well as Layla's closest friend and confidante. Ghazala encourages Layla to follow her heart; believes that home is where the heart is.

Henri Curiel is one of a few historical characters in 5th Republic. Henri Curiel was a left-wing political activist. Born in Egypt, Curiel led the communist Democratic Movement for National Liberation until he was expelled from the country in 1950. Settling in France, Curiel aided the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale and other national liberation causes. In 1978 Curiel was assassinated in Paris; his murderer has never been identified.[1] In the fictionalized context of 5th Republic, Curiel recruits René to the cause.

Dominique Darbois is one of a few historical characters in 5th Republic. Dominique was a French photojournalist and author, noted for her studies of exotic locales, artifacts, children, and primitive peoples. She was born in Paris on 5 April 1925, and lives there today. During the Second World War was active in the Free French Forces. She was imprisoned for two years in the Cité de Muette housing estate in Drancy near Paris, which had become an internment camp. On liberation in 1944 received the Croix de Guerre for her work with the French Resistance. In the course of her many voyages, Darbois has often declared herself annoyed with "le colonialisme européen," and has involved herself with "anti-colonialist struggles" in Indochina, Algeria, and Cuba. During the Algerian period, she involved herself with the Jeanson network.[2] In the fictionalized context of 5th Republic, Dominique teaches René the ropes.

Rolande Mingasson is one of a few historical characters in 5th Republic. Rolande is responsible for organizing safe houses within Paris so that FLN members could move freely between Germany, France, and Morocco.[3] She is coarsened by memories of the German occupation of France during WWII. In the fictionalized context of 5th Republic, Rolande is all business, no play, but she develops a soft spot for René. When René and Layla try to escape Paris, she tries to facilitate it.

Maurice Papon is one of a few historical characters in 5th Republic. Maurice Papon was a French civil servant, leading the police in major prefectures and in Paris during the Nazi Occupation of France and into the 1960s. Forced to resign because of allegations of abuses, he became an industrial leader and Gaullist politician. In 1998 he was convicted of crimes against humanity for his participation in the deportation of more than 1600 Jews to concentration camps during World War II when he was secretary general for police in Bordeaux. Papon was known to have tortured insurgent prisoners (1954–62) as prefect of the Constantinois department during the Algerian War. He was named chief of the Paris police in 1958.[4] In the fictionalized context of 5th Republic, he acts as an avatar for the Notre Dame de Paris character Jacques Charmolue. Also within this fictionalized context, he forms a close bond with Étienne, who begins to use Papon as a pawn in his own games.

Production history

5th Republic had its first staged reading under the title Our Lady of Paris in the fall of 2010. It went on to have another staged reading presentation later in January 2011.[5] It was accepted into the New York Musical Theatre Festival for their 2011 season and had its world premiere there under the title Les Enfants de Paris[6][7] The NYMF version of the show featured Sevan Greene, Adam Halpin, Daniel Kohler, Nadine Malouf, Megan Reinking, Jed Resnick, and Blake Segal. After taking a break from the piece, a demo was recorded in July 2014 featuring Santino Fontana, Alexander Gemignani, Derek Klena, Laura Osnes, Mariana Saba, Farah Siraj, and Kareem Youssef. The recording also featured virtuoso instrumentalist Bassam Saba on the Oud and Ney, as well as other instrumentalists from the New York Arabic Orchestra.[8] 5th Republic had a public table read with The Musical Theatre Factory on April 13, 2015.[9]