Vaudeville Vignettes: Le Théâtre de la Reine

Theatre of Queen Marie Antoinette at the Petit Trianon by Richard Mique
Theatre of Queen Marie Antoinette at the Petit Trianon by Richard Mique

Vaudeville Vignettes is where we’ll share stories about past, present and future vaudeville-related events, people, and places that influence and inspire the Dark Follies.

In Versailles, France, there exists a small 100-seat theater constructed under the request of Marie-Antoinette. Le Théâtre de la Reine was built in 1778 on the Petit Trianon Estate. Marie-Antoinette was a fan of the arts and the theater was built not just for others to perform in, but also so she could participate in theatrical productions. As customary at the time and the interested party, the theater was a work of decadence and art. Adorned in gold leaf with faux marble painted pieces, the theater was also equipped with state-of-the-art stage machinery when it was built.

The years were kind to the theater and a majority of the original architecture remained intact until restoration projects began in the 1930s. Both cosmetic and structural repairs were needed to keep the theater from collapsing. In 1997, restoration professionals used original construction details to guide in the in-depth recovery of this prized theater to its former glory. Most of the decorative details had been recorded in paintings in such vivid detail it allowed artists to replicate all the individual pieces of the theater. Even the original fabric used in the theater was able to be recreated with the help of local artisans.

Although the theater is no longer used to host intimate shows, it is still available for small gatherings. The hard work and donations of many helped to restore this place to its former glory.

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