The music of Jacques Brel at the Alliance Theatre (4/16/09)
About 140 Cornerstone members and their guests enjoyed the Alliance production of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Also, to give us an Insider view of the production, we were treated to a brief, pre-show discussion on the life and history of Jacques Brel. Jacques Brel (April 8, 1929 — October 9, 1978) was born in Belgium and lived most of his life in Paris. He was a heavy smoker and, when attempting to sail around the world on a yacht, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and died prematurely at the age of 49. He is buried in the Marquesas Islands in the same cemetery as Paul Gaugin.
This was a wonderful opportunity to hear many of Brel’s most loved songs which are so well known in the French speaking world. In fact Jacques Brel has sold over 25 million records worldwide including more than 12 million albums and singles in France and Belgium. It was largely due to the translation and interpretation of Brel’s music by singers Scott Walker and Judy Collins that brought his music to the English speaking world. Others who have sung his work in English include David Bowie, Spencer Moody, Dusty Springfield, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone and the Kingston Trio.
The Alliance stage was set as a Parisian night club with some of the audience sitting on the stage. A fun touch was the refreshments which were served from bars on the stage during the intermission! Four cast members, two men and two women, treated us to a wide selection of Brel’s songs. Three musicians played an assortment of instruments to accompany the singers. Throughout the evening, we experienced melancholy, joy, sadness, love and comedy. Many thanks go to the Alliance Theatre for providing this memorable evening.