Goodwill NYNJ Backs Off-Broadway Show Based on Real-Life Intrigue

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Photo: Angie Kremer Photography

This month, Goodwill NYNJ sponsored the production of “Defendant Maurice Chevalier,” an Off-Broadway show. The costumes department borrowed clothing for all actors from the organization. When the show concludes this Sunday, February 21, the production company will return the clothing freshly laundered and ready for sale!

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Photo: Angie Kremer Photography

The description of the show is intensely intriguing, to say the least: “Accused of treason for collaborating with the Nazis during their occupation of France, popular French singer and entertainer Maurice Chevalier goes on trial for his life in the aftermath of World War II.

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Photo: Angie Kremer Photography

With a probable death sentence in his future, Chevalier is confronted by a judge and asked whether or not the accusations made against him are true. Chevalier is given pause to reflect on the years following his success in Hollywood when he returned to the Paris stage and fell in love with Nita Raya, a promising young actress whom he married.

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Photo: Angie Kremer Photography

At that point, the singing star faced his greatest trial; how to protect his Jewish bride from detection by the Nazis during the war years while maintaining his performing career and status as the worldwide symbol of France. Caught between the demands of German propaganda, the collaborators and the French Resistance, Chevalier reveals his side of the story.

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Photo: Angie Kremer Photography

Although Chevalier is remembered with fondness by many around the world, he is still criticized for his controversial involvement with the Vichy government during World War II. Only Maurice Chevalier attempted to re-establish the truth of his position during the war years in his writings. It is from these writings as well as from biographies and family stories that the play was created.

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Photo: Angie Kremer Photography

Born and raised in France, playwright and actor Alexis Chevalier is the director of this production and the great-grandnephew of Maurice Chevalier. The play won the annual Strasberg Works Contest in 2015 and was initially performed at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute New York. An alumnus of the Lee Strasberg Institute, Alexis is currently preparing to direct a short film from his own screenplay in Spain.

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Photo: Angie Kremer Photography

The show closes this Sunday, February 21. Performances are Wednesday through Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m at American Theatre of Actors in the John Cullum Theatre (314 W. 54th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues).

Tickets are $35. For tickets go to www.smarttix.com or call (212) 868-4444.

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