Don Juan is a very popular literary character; the rich, cynical, hedonistic young man who makes a point to flaunt his lack of respect for the rules of religion and society. and his myth has been told and retold at least a hundred times since the 14th century.
The most famous version of the character, in the french-speaking world at least, is most likely the play by Molière: Dom Juan ou le Festin de Pierre. (Don’t ask me why he spells it with an M.) That was the version I knew best until about a decade ago, and I didn’t know it that well, really. Only the great lines: Don Juan was a libertine, he killed the father of a girl he seduced and then he had dinner with the father’s statue for some reason, and the statue dragged him into hell.
So when I heard that singer-songwriter Félix Gray was adapting Don Juan as a musical, and I began to hear the singles playing on the radio (which was about ten years ago), I wasn’t exactly pumped. I liked the songs, they were good, but I didn’t want to see the show. But I went anyway, because my grandmother got two tickets and invited me to go with her, and I couldn’t think of a way to say no. I’m really glad I did, though. By the end of the show I was crying. I don’t cry easily, so when I do, you know that you’ve done something right.
The Don-Juan-repentant theme of the musical would not have gone over well with the writers of the 15th, 16th and 17th century, but that’s all right. The Don-Juan-deserves-to-burn-in-hell-for-defying-authority-and-enjoying-a-good-time theme that they exploited is a lot harder to fly in this era. I believe that the myth stayed strong, the archetype is still so well-known today because it evolved with the time. There’s always room for re-invention.