Jacques Brel (1929-1978)Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris!

Dates and Venue 17 - 26 June @ 8pm, mat. 2pm 26 June | PAL Theatre, 8th Fl. 581 Cardero St (Coal Harbour), Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Transiting smoothly from number to number, the cast of four, Brandyn Eddy, Kathy Fitzpatrick. Michael Kovac, and Erin Palm sing and dance their way through the protest/satirical music composed by Jacques Brel, translated to English and arranged as a musical revue for stage by Eric Blau and Mort Shuman. This classic Brel musical has been presented worldwide since its opening in New York's Off-Broadway in Greenwich Village since 1968. Arts Club has done it thrice since 1972.

Point B Theatre's production was just as good as the Arts Club shows, and it was staged night-club style, with the audience sitting around tables, sipping their drinks as they witnessed this musical revue. The only problem I found in the intimate setting of PAL was that the music was too loud. If the musicians were situated behind the actors, it would have run more smoothly. When you have an electric guitar, and drums coming out loud, this tends to distract the audience from the lyrics of Brel.

But the actors were generally excellent. To combat the competition with the band, I think they should have worn individual microphones, and that way, the songs would come out clearer.

I sat close to the orchestra during the first half, and decided to go to the other side for the second half. I enjoyed the show better during this second half.

Another qualm I had about the finale, "If We Only Had Love", was that it was sung so sullenly. I think for a finale, Brel intended the actors to give their all, instead of the quiet performance delivered by these four actors.

I was most impressed by the two women , particularly the beautiful voices of Fitzpatrick and Palm. I wasn't too impressed with Eddy's "Amsterdam", and this is a Brel classic that should have been sung with more passion. I enjoyed the antics of Kovac, especially in his rendition of "The Bulls".

Brel inspired a lot of singers/composers, especially Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, who went on to sing songs satirizing society. Brel, in one of his songs, pokes fun at the bourgeoisie in "Middle Class", and does an interesting tour de force in the surrealistic "Funeral Tango".

This was an enjoyable production by this new theatre group which presented Reefer Madness also at PAL last year. I wish the company the best, and look forward to their next production.

© 2010 Ed Farolan