Localisation of Iconic Musicals for Global Audiences

Guildhawk | 1 March 2024

Stage Entertainment, a prominent theatrical production company with a global presence, has long been synonymous with delivering high-caliber entertainment to diverse audiences. Known for bringing some of the most beloved and iconic musicals such as "Mamma Mia!", "Ghost", and "The Lion King" to life, the company has a reputation for excellence in the world of theatre.

With venues spread across several European countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, and Italy, Stage Entertainment faced the complex task of adapting English-language musicals for non-English speaking audiences while preserving the essence of the original work.

In 2017, the company embarked on a transformative partnership with Guildhawk to tackle the linguistic and cultural nuances of translating and localising the hit stage musical "Grease" for French audiences.

The Challenge

The art of localising "Grease" for France

The primary challenge for Stage Entertainment was to ensure the localisation of "Grease" resonated with French audiences without straying from the spirit and intent of the English-language original.

This meant meticulously translating both spoken dialogue and song lyrics in a way that would appeal to French cultural sensibilities while maintaining the integrity of the source material. Furthermore, the translation process needed to be carefully managed to respect copyright laws and the demands of original creators and rights holders.

The intricate nature of musical scripts and the importance of preserving rhythm, rhyme, and meaning added layers of complexity to the undertaking. Any inaccuracies or delays in the localisation process had the potential to jeopardise the eagerly awaited opening night.

The Solution

Guildhawk's expert localisation and backtranslation services

Guildhawk rose to the occasion by assembling a team of creative linguists with sector-specific experience and a deep understanding of the backtranslation process.

The team's expertise was instrumental in navigating the intricacies of translating "Grease" while ensuring a seamless adaptation for the French stage. Guildhawk's approach involved an initial translation and adaptation phase, followed by meticulous run-throughs to refine rhythm and rhyme.

The team then undertook a critical step—backtranslating the localised versions into English as literally as possible. This allowed the original creators to review the adaptations in their native language, ensuring that no significant deviations had been made and providing an opportunity for their input on specific aspects of the translation.

Our commitment to accuracy and swift turnaround times ensured that each component of the localisation process seamlessly contributed to the project's success.

The Results

Encore! The impact of localisation excellence on Stage Entertainment

The successful localisation of "Grease" marked the beginning of a sustained partnership between Stage Entertainment and Guildhawk.

The collaboration yielded French-language productions of other renowned musicals, including "Cats," "Chicago," "Ghost," and "The Producers," all staged at the esteemed Théâtre Mogador in Paris.

The positive outcomes of these projects are a testament to the importance of high-quality translation in the arts and the value of a dedicated localisation team.

Of Guildhawk, Loustau-Carrere says: “The extreme quality of what you do is why we work with you time and again. And this is not an easy exercise. It’s very well done!”

Take a look at our interview with Eric Loustau-Carrere.

The expertise and dedication of Guildhawk have not only allowed Stage Entertainment to transcend language barriers but have also enabled the stories and songs of beloved musicals to capture the hearts of new global audiences.