Les Folies de Marrakech – A Performance Like No Other

Morocco is a fascinating country and a very popular tourist destination. There is much for tourists to see and do as they travel through this diverse country, and friendly local inhabitants welcome visitors to enjoy their ancient traditions and rich culture. Something that visitors, as well as locals, do not expect to find in this predominantly Muslim country, is a French-style cabaret, but in early May 2008, Frenchman Claude Thomas launched “Les Folies de Marrakech” – a show which has all the grandeur of a world-class cabaret, while respecting the traditions of Islam.

Audiences will not get to see revealing leotards, g-strings or nudity at this music hall. The bodies of the dancers are demurely concealed and any kissing is done on the cheek, but that does not detract from the entertainment value of Les Folies de Marrakech. When putting this ambitious project together, Thomas set a goal to be 100 percent Moroccan, while at the same time being 100 percent “Folies”, and it would appear that he has achieved this goal.

Thomas has been a music-hall producer for the past 15 years, during which time he took his shows to various parts of France, as well as Japan, Canada, Reno and Las Vegas. His past shows have never presented the challenges that Les Folies de Marrakech has. He has relied heavily on his cast to direct him with regard to what would be acceptable to a Muslim audience. For example, the term “music hall” is more acceptable than “cabaret” and drastic changes had to be made to the costumes to ensure that they would not be immodest or offensive. Even the choreography has been adjusted to accommodate the rules of Islam, as certain postures are considered unsuitable. Thomas has taken these challenges in his stride, with the emphasis being on producing a show that is above all entertaining.

Certainly, audiences can expect an hour and a half of pure entertainment as the show takes them on a virtual tour of the world with magicians, pirates, acrobats, a falconer, magic fountains, music, dance and comedy. The venue for Les Folies de Marrakech is the newly constructed 2,000 square foot music hall, which can accommodate an audience of 1,100 for a sit down dinner as they enjoy the show, all for the price of 550 dirhams.

More than 300 performers from across Morocco auditioned for Les Folies de Marrakech, with 47 finally being selected. These talented performers come from all walks of life and, under the tutorship of five choreographers, they trained for fourteen hours a day over a period of nine months. The critics agree that the results of all this hard work are nothing short of spectacular.