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Curtain Call: French Film Actresses on Stage

Mélanie Laurent, Audrey Tatou and Emilie Dequenne are trying their hand at Parisian theater.

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Melanie Laurent

Photo By Steve Eichner

Audrey Tautou

Photo By Jimi Celeste

Emilie Dequenne

Photo By Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Audrey Dana

Photo By Marc Susset-Lacroix/WireImage

A group of young European actresses who have made a splash in film are testing their mettle in the theater. Here, a roundup of starlets appearing on the Paris stage this spring.


MELANIE LAURENT
At only 27, Mélanie Laurent already has starred in more than 20 movies. And she’s appeared mainly in rather dramatic fare, notably “Je vais bien, ne t’en fais pas” (“I’m Fine, Don’t Worry”), Philippe Lioret’s drama for which she won a César — the French equivalent of an Oscar — for most promising actress in 2006.

Last year she seduced American audiences with her turn in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” in which she played the French Jewish proprietor of a movie theater who plots to assassinate Nazis. And she has two more dramas in the pipeline: “The Round Up,” a movie by Rose Bosch, which narrates the Nazis’ July 16, 1942, Parisian raid, the Vel d’Hiv Roundup, and next year, Mike Mills’ “Beginners,” also starring Ewan McGregor.

So it’s understandable the blonde actress would want to pull a 180 for her theater debut, choosing the light, romantic comedy “Promenade de Santé” (“Health Promenade”). In the work by Nicolas Bedos, Laurent plays a crazy, young nymphomaniac who imagines herself in a love story.

“Promenade de Santé” runs through May 1 at La Pépinière Theater, 7 Rue Louis Le Grand 75002.



AUDREY TAUTOU
World famous thanks to her roles in “Amélie” and “The Da Vinci Code,” Audrey Tautou was first discovered in Toni Marshall’s screwball comedy “Venus Beauté” 10 years ago.

Most recently, she played Coco Chanel in a movie about the fashion designer’s early life, and also appears in Chanel No.5 perfume ads. Later this year, Tautou will star in Pierre Salvadori’s “Full Treatment,” as a hairdresser who forwards a love letter to her widowed mother.

For her first theater stint, however, Tautou turned to the classics. Since February, Parisians have been applauding the 33-year-old brunette’s take on Nora Helmer, one of the first dramatic modern women, in a revival of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.”

“Maison de poupée” runs through June 10 at La Madeleine Theater, 19 Rue de Surène 75008.


AUDREY DANA

Audrey Dana, 32, got her big break in 2008 when she won the prestigious Romy Schneider prize for her role in Claude Lelouch’s movie, “Roman de gare,” as an annoying hairdresser abandoned by her fiancé in a gas station. Last year, she was Vincent Lindon’s ex-wife in Philippe Lioret’s hit social drama “Welcome,” which snatched seven awards internationally, and this year she will be seen in three new films, including Lelouch’s “Ces amours là” (“Those Loves”), which will be presented at the Cannes film festival in May.

But Dana’s Parisian fans can catch her live on stage now in Jean-Claude Carrière’s “Audition.” The play follows three actors who are auditioning without the knowledge of either their roles or scripts. Heavyweight stage presences Jean Pierre Marielle and Manu Payet round out the cast.

“Audition” runs through June at the Edouard VII Theater, 10 Place Edouard VII 75009.


EMILIE DEQUENNE
Emilie Dequenne, 29, is no stranger to an awards podium. She started her career with a bang, nabbing the best actress prize in Cannes in 1999 for her role in the Dardenne brothers’ Palm d’Or winner, “Rosetta.”

Since then, the Belgian actress has piled up nominations for most promising or best supporting actress awards, including the 2001 Cabourg Romantic Film Festival Best New Actress award for her role in “The Brotherhood of the Wolf,” in which she impersonates young aristocratic Marianne de Morangias.

Last year, she went contemporary opposite Catherine Deneuve in André Techiné’s drama “The Girl on the Train,” based on a true story of a young woman who claims she was the target of an anti-Semitic attack. And next June she’ll be seen in a Franck Richard horror movie, “The Pack.”

Despite her film-heavy résumé, the blue-eyed actress, who studied theater from age 12, already has hit the stage in classical work such as a 2003 production of “Lysistrata d’Aristophane” and Strindberg’s “Mademoiselle Julie d’August” in 2006. Since January, she has spent seven shows a week putting up with the famous explorer Alexandra David-Néel’s tyranny in Michel Lengliney’s “In Alexandra David-Néel, My Tibet.” Dequenne plays Marie Madeleine, David-Néel’s long-suffering secretary and confidante.

“Alexandra David-Néel, mon Tibet” runs through the end of April at the Petit Montparnasse Theater, 31 Rue de la Gaité 75014.
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