Category Archives: works in many media formats

“Lilies”, a based on Bouchard’s play, was a quirky gay film in the 1990s and is now a musical

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Sometime in 1998 or 1999, while living in Minneapolis in the Churchill Apartments near the Mississippi River, I saw a bizarre gay film “Lilies“, directed by John Greyson, based on the play by French Canadian Michel Marc Bouchard.  I saw it at the Reading Theaters on the East Bank, in an old auditorium.  The Reading chain was a precursor to today’s Angelika theater chain.  At the time, it had showed mostly mainstream movies, but it showed this film from Alliance Atlantis.  The same theater previewed “Judas Kiss” at the Twin Cities LGBT film festival in 2011, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time to see it.

The film and play concept is layered. In 1952, a bishop (Michel Sabourin) visits a prison in Quebec.  The inmate locks him in, and makes him watch an embedded morality play in which the Bishop’s own involvement in a gay relationship, covered up, four decades before, is developed.   The structure of the film or stage play deserves study for anyone else (like me) developing a screenplay with a lot of embedded backstories.

There is a new production of the play as a musical in Belgium. (In Dutch or Flemish, the spelling is “Lelies“),

There is a 13-minute YouTube video (see below), mostly in Dutch (a little German and a little English — Dutch is so close to “old” English you don’t need sutitles) with cast members chatting about the musical, and performing a few snippets, including the song “Go Back to Jail”.  (In Minneapolis, at a coffee bar off the Skyway, a friend who worked as an actor sometimes made a joke “Stay out of jail” to everyone after seeing this movie.)

The music is by Sam Verhoeven.  The chamber ensemble has a curious sound that mixes French humor sometimes with a little gentle Viennese expressionism, like Schoenberg unwould as tonal. But much of the music is cheerful, almost like on Broadway.

The cast includes Timo Descamps,  Matthew Michel, Hans Peter Janssens, and Aar Halici.

Flanders is well known as an independent film center (as with films from Strand Releasing). Although the “Dutch speaking part of Beligum”, to American travelers it seems like the rest of the Netherlands (and Belgium) for that matter.  I was last there in 2001.

The name of the theater in Antwerp, Belgium is apparently “Judas Theater Productions”, link here.

I would wonder if the musical will come to Quebec, and then to New York and Los Angeles and other cities (Minneapolis).

(Published Sunday Jan. 25, 2015 at 9:50 PM EST.)

Update: Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 9:00 PM EDT

There is a complete YouTube channel with 15 videos, that would convey most of the opera.  Timo presents one of these on a posting on his Tumblr blog.