Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes to create the amazing Lido Evening? Well, preparation is a key and everything will have to be perfectly organised ahead of the show, which call for 600 sumptuous costumes, 23 sets, the incredible machinery and the cuisine.
The Lido is like a huge ship anchored on the Champs-Elysées on which, every evening 2,000 spectators embark, dazzled by the luxurious costumes, the tempo of the show, the beauty of the dancers, the sophisticated staging techniques, and of course, the excellent supper prepared by Philippe Lacroix.
Its invisible, silent machinery, in the wings, uses winches, turntables and pulleys similar to what you might find on an aircraft carrier, to change the scenes, and alternate ice rink and swimming pool.
The 23 sets for ‘Bonheur’ are impressive. The nave of a cathedral of light, a staircase spanning more than five metres, the rooftops of Paris with their cats, the Avenue Montaigne with its magnificent shop windows opening on to an haute couture fashion parade only to be changed into an factory scene for a rave party, and a Hindu temple with living sculptures. A rain curtain takes the place of the stage curtain: the different lighting can make it opaque or transparent as needed. A pool under the stage feeds the 12,000 water points spanning 12 metres. The swimming pool contains 80,000 litres, weighing 120 tonnes, stored under the audience and brought up to stage level by lift when it is time for the show.
The Lido has always been excellent at inventing and achieving its artistic ambitions by using state of the art technologies. Innovations created at the Lido, and used by only a small number of other cabaret theatres throughout the world, include part of the room that can be lowered by 80 centimetres so that the stage can be seen by all the spectators, a pool containing eighty tons of water, askating rink and fountains using as much as 60,000 litres for each performance.
Some improvements have been made for Bonheur, as the comfort of the audience is paramount. The lighting as been redone to obtain greater luminosity with fewer spotlights and the sound is now completely digital; thereby affording a particularly good quality and allowing for some totally new sound effects.
For the Lido, in true cabaret tradition, music is essential, and everything revolves round it to the extent that when it stops, the lights also stop.
Although automation reigns supreme, the music is anything but synthetic. It is recorded by a symphony orchestra, with live backing from the Lido orchestra, a solution that gives the show that little bit extra.
The wings at the Lido are known as the ‘aircraft carrier’. No one knows who first started the expression but everyone uses it. The term describesthe procedure that raises and lowers the stage, the swimming pool, the ice rink and the different sets and then places them automatically in huge drawers just as the planes are placed in an aircraft carrier. This is just one of the many secrets in the wings of the Lido – 7,500 square metres and as high as six storeys from stage to ceiling.
There are always new tricks so that the show runs smoothly and that the many set changes (one everyfour minutes) and costume changes do not cause the slightest mistake. Every evening, the 30 technicians are on the deck. Like the watchman inhis tiny crow’s nest overlooking the room watches over everything, ready to intervene at the slightest incident. If the technology fails, music starts immediately. In Lido jargon, this practiceis known as “a Versailles”.
Visiting the wings is like wandering round a village. Among the things you can see, are a hairdressing salon, an infirmary and even a gym. The only place you wouldn’t find in a little village is the girls’ dressing rooms, where they pile in anything they like. Sometimes, in these entire shambles, where beauty products are hidden among tubes of make-up, water bottle and family photos, there sits a large teddy bear. The Bluebell Girls have not lost touch with theirinner child.
This little sound is known the world over. A champagne cork pops and the party gets underway. At the Lido, you can hear this noise repeated 800 times every evening. With something over 200,000 bottles a year, it is the world’s biggest champagne consumer. Serving the 900 or so diners are some hundred men in black (the masters steward, chefs de rang and committed waiters). In the huge kitchens from which two ramps slope gently down to the dining room, other men officiate, in white, this time, and wearing chef’s hats. This is the brigade of 35 cooks and pastry chefs who work under the orders of the chef Philippe Lacroix. Lacroix keeps a close eye on the taste and quality of theproducts whose origins are scrupulously checked. He also makes sure that the menus vary with the seasons, and he makes it a point of honour that the special New Year’s Eve menu is never quite the same, from one year to thenext; nor completely different either.
And finally, the 600 sumptuous costumes, the dazzling show, the 23 sets, the incredible machinery and the cuisine are the ingredients of an amazing evening!