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LES PETITS RATS Music by Peter Allwood, book and lyrics by Jeremy James Taylor SYNOPSIS The 19th century children's "corps de ballets" at the Paris Opera provides the setting for this moving story about a former dancer whose determination to spare her talented daughter from the heartbreak and hardships of the ballet stage is undermined by the patronage of the man who long ago deserted them both. An excellent show for young dancers, "Les Petit Rats" features two optional ballets: "Cinderella," and the comic "Vegetable Ballet." Set against the romantic backdrop of 19th Century Paris, this musical concerns the celebrated troupe of child ballet dancers (the 'petit rats' of the Paris Opera) and in particular Mariette, the young daughter of the ruthless Duke of Bordeaux and one of the prima ballerinas, who must choose between the success and fame of the pasteboard-glitter ballet world that her father inhabits, and an anonymous life of love and affection with her mother. With a suitably lush score, this show is ideal for secondary youth groups with an interest in dance. STORY ACT ONE Late September, 1840. The exterior of Le Divan du Théâtre, a street café next door to the stage door of the Paris Opera. The lights come up on a frozen tableau. A party is in progress celebrating the opening night of La Favorite, an opera by Donizetti. Mariette, a young girl, is dancing a "matelotte" as the party-goers watch entranced. The tableau comes to life as Mariette's dance finishes to great applause. Monsieur Albert steps forward and tells the audience how Mariette came to be at the café on that particular night. 1829. Petit, the dancing master, is rehearsing the Corps de Ballet. Albert tells how the Duke of Bordeaux chose a young ballerina named Louise to be his lover. When the Duke discovered that Louise was pregnant, he left her destitute. Alone with her child, Louise had to dance in taverns for money. Now homeless and wandering, their road carries them back to Paris. Louise collapses in front of the Le Divan café. Albert steps forward to help and is amazed to recognize Louise as the former prima ballerina. The Stagehands, Ballerinas, and Petits Rats (children who practice at the Ballet School) pass Louise and Mariette on their way to rehearsal. Monsieur Albert and Guillaume, the café owner, continue to wait on Louise. Amélie, a Petit Rat and Guillaume's daughter, runs back to the café, having left her dancing shoes. She flirts with Albert's assistant Franço is and makes quick friends with Mariette, the kind Madame. Silvain offers to take Louise and Mariette in to live with her family. Antoinette gathers the Petits Rats outside the door to the Ballet School. We meet the various Rats as they prepare for class. Madame Grosnier comes out of the school and the children play tricks on her, driving her crazy. Petit joins her and the children until they run inside for lessons. As he beings the morning exercises, Petit nags the children, especially Marie, who is late again. The Duke comes to the Ballet School and encourages the Rats. Their performance of the Vegetable Ballet is only two days away. The children are very impressed with the Duke and vie for his attention, but the Duke pays special attention to the lovely Katrine, making the other children jealous. Soon, the day is done. Madame Silvain arrives home with Louise and Mariette. Monsieur Silvain is hard at work making ballet shoes. Spotting Mariette's dainty foot, Silvain remarks that she has a true dancer's foot and compares her to Cinderella. Louise doesn't want her daughter to be a dancer, but Silvain fits Mariette with a ballet shoe. Mariette is in heaven - the lovely shoes make her to be a dancer more than anything. Alone, Mariette asks her mother about her father and Louise confides that he was a rich man, but not a kind man. As Louise sleeps, Mariette sings to herself. She is interrupted by Franço is at the door with a note for her mother - Guillaume