Saturday, February 23, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

Brel's Valentine
by Jay Catterson

In 1968, the musical revue Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris was first mounted Off-Broadway and ran for more than four years. Now Point B Theatre, in association with Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver, have remounted this show for a new audience. 

The show is a cavalcade of songs by Belgian artist Jacques Brel, whose complex lyrics and soaring melodies touch on universal themes such as life and death, love and loss, and youth versus growing old. The direction by Maddison Popov (who is also part of the cast) and Brianna Wiens is tight, and the cast of four, backed by an amazing Kerry O'Donovan on the piano, bring out the emotion of Brel's work with   raw gusto. As an ensemble, the four players are all strong singers with great acting ability, and can really connect with the true meaning behind the lyrics. The true standouts of the cast are Mike Kovac, who embodies a perfect blend of comedic timing and loveable sincerity, and Erin Palm, whose out of this world vocals blend with powerful emotion to deliver several standout moments that are stunningly beautiful (notably "My Death", "Old Folks", "Marieke", "Carousel").

Often haunting, sometimes funny, and quite moving, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris is a show that reads like a Valentine to life's experiences. And the universal messages of life that are apparent in Brel's work are showcased here by this cast in such a splendid, heartfelt way that it is a true gem of a show that is not to be missed. 

Continues to March 3

1 comment:

  1. I saw this version of Brel a couple of nights ago. It is the fourth production I have seen - the first almost 40 years ago.

    The reviewer was way wide of the mark on this one. The male performers were uniformly bad. They just did not get what Brel was about. Smirking is not comedic timing.

    Erin Palm managed to find her notes and had a few good moments but still fell short of Kathy Fitzpatrick.

    Kathy was the only real standout who truly understood the material and delivered flawlessly. If the other cast members had been up to her standard it would have been a really memorable evening.


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