Le Mariage de mademoiselle Beulemans

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Le Mariage de mademoiselle Beulemans is a Belgian play by Fernand Wicheler and Frantz Fonson. It opened at the Théâtre l'Olympia in Brussels on March 18, 1910 and was reopened in Paris, at the Théâtre de la Renaissance on June 7, 1910.

Combining French with the dialect and particular humour of Brussels, the play was a great success both in Belgium and abroad from the beginning. This play is an integral part of the folklore of Brussels and still undergoes regular revivals. Although numerous actors have interpreted the play, Gustave Libeau and Jaques Lippe have notably marked it with their personalities.

Summary[edit]

The play is set in Brussels, where Suzanne Beulemans, the daughter of a rich brewer is promised to marry Séraphin Meulemeester, the son of a rival brewer. The young man and his father both seem particularly motivated by the dowry of the young fiancée.

But Séraphin has a rival in Albert Delpierre, a young Frenchman who is learning brewery from Beulemans and who is discreetly enamoured with the young woman. Albert learns Séraphin's secret that he is having an affair with a worker and that they have had a child. He promises Séraphin that he will never reveal any of it to Suzanne, but she is told be Isabelle, her maid.

Suzanne breaks off the engagement with Séraphin and convinces him to return to the woman he loves and his son. This rupture leads to another between the two brewers who are both in contention for honorary presidency of the brewers society. In the final act, Suzanne and Albert strive to promote the election of Beulemans which instills him with a deep gratitude toward Albert.

Cast[edit]

  • Lucienne Roger :Suzanne Beulemans, the only Beulemans daughter
  • Jacque : Ferdinand Beulemans, Brussels brewer, Suzanne's father
  • Vara : Hortense Beulemans, Suzanne's mother
  • Jules Berry : Albert Delpierre, young Frenchman employed by Beulemans
  • Frémont : Monsieur Delpierre, French shopkeeper, Albert's father and acquaintance of Beulemans
  • Merin : Séraphin Meulemeester, Suzanne's fiancé
  • Ambreville : Monsieur Meulemeester, Séraphin's father
  • Vitry : Isabelle, Maid
  • Mylo : Mostinckx, committee president
  • Marmont : Verduren, committee secretary
  • Daix : Baron, committee treasurer
  • Duro, Delferrière, Nobel, Lennac, Cerrébos : committee members
  • Cilly : Octavie, waitress
  • Directed by Frantz Fonson
  • Set design by Albert Dubosq

About the play[edit]

In a message dedicated to the people of Brussels in 1960 for the 50th anniversary of Le Mariage de mademoiselle Beulemans, Marcel Pagnol himself recounted the origin of his Trilogie Marseillaise:

"Around 1925, because I felt exiled in Paris I realised that I loved Marseilles and I wanted to express this love by writing a Marseilles play. My friends and my family dissuaded me from it: they told me that a play so localised, that put on show characters with such a particular accent, would certainly not be understood outside of Bouches-du-Rhône, and that in Marseilles itself it would be considered an amateur work. These arguments seemed sound and I gave up on my project. But in 1926 I saw Le Mariage de mademoiselle Beulemans; this masterpiece was already 16 years old and its success had gone around the world.

That night, I realised that a local, but profoundly sincere and authentic play could sometimes have a place in the literary heritage of a country and appeal to the whole world. So I tried to do for Marseilles what Fonson and Wicheler had done for Brussels, and that's how a Belgian brewer became the father of César and how the charming mademoiselle Beulemans, at 17 years old, brought Marius into the world. There is also another character who owes his life to the Brussels comedy: it is monsieur Brun who is, ironically, the illegitimate son of the Parisian Albert Delpierre. I had noticed that his accent made a pleasant contrast to that of the Beulemans family and highlighted the Brussels flavour of the play. That's why, in César's Marseilles bar, I placed a man from Lyon." (Marcel Pagnol)

Frantz Fonson and Ferdinand Wicheler gave an extension to the play in the form of an operette: Beulemans marie sa fille. The music was composed by Arthur Van Oost. This operette, in three acts and four scenes, opened for the first time at the Théâtre royal des Galeries in Brussels on October 18, 1912. During this enactment the principle roles were played by:

  • Yvonne Gay : Suzanne Beulemans
  • Alfred Jacque : Ferdinand Beulemans
  • Charmal : Madame Beulemans
  • Georges Foix : Albert Delpierre
  • Mylo : Séraphin Meulemeester
  • Ambreville : Monsieur Meulemeester

Adaptations[edit]

The play was adapted for cinema by Julien Duvivier in 1927 with Andrée Brabant, by Jean Choux in 1932 and by André Cerf in 1950.

Several television adaptations have been made, all broadcast on RTBF, with principle casting as follows:

  • 1967 : Christiane Lenain (Suzanne), Jacques Lippe (M. Beulemans), Irène Vernal (Mme Beulemans), Jean-Pierre Loriot (Séraphin), Alain Robert (Albert), Marcel Roels (M. Meulemeester)
  • 1978 : Ania Guédroitz (Suzanne), Jacques Lippe (M. Beulemans), Christiane Lenain (Mme Beulemans), Olivier Monneret (Séraphin), Leonil Mc Cormick (Albert), Robert Roanne (M. Meulemeester)
  • 1998 : Cécile Florin (Suzanne), Raymond Pradel (M. Beulemans), Anne Deroever (Mme Beulemans), Pierre Pigeolet (Séraphin), Damien Gillard (Albert), Robert Roanne (M. Meulemeester) - Production by Théâtre de Montreux (Swiss)
  • 2004 : Cécile Florin (Suzanne), Daniel Hanssens (M. Beulemans), Pascale Vyvère (Mme Beulemans), Pierre Pigeolet (Séraphin), Damien Gillard (Albert), Robert Roanne (M. Meulemeester) Claudie Rion (Isabelle)
  • 2014 : Wendy Piette (Suzanne), Daniel Hanssens (M.Beulemans), Manuel Servais (Mme Beulemans), Denis Carpenters (Seraphin), Damien De Dobbeleer (M Albert), Laure Godisiabois (Isabelle), Pascal Racan (M Delpierre), Michel Poncelet (M Meulemeester), Bernard Lefranc (president), Jean-Paul Clerbois (secretary)
  • Animated version, 2014 : Caroline Veyt (Suzanne), Guy Lemaire (M. Beulemans), Marie-Hélène Vanderborght (Mme Beulemans), Adrien Devyver (Séraphin), Stéphane Jobert (Albert), Hubert Mestrez (M. Meulemeester), Sara de Paduwa (Isabelle)

For a long time the Théâtre royal des Galeries held total exclusivity over the play for French-speaking Belgium, as much for professional companies as for amateurs. The play fell into the public domain in 2006 (70 years after the death of F. Wicheler in 1935).