Arts Club Theatre Company

Jacques Brel (Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
by Eric Blau, Mort Shuman and Jacques Brel
Music by Jacques Brel

Venue: The Arts Club, Granville Island Stage
Dates: 12 February - 13 March 2004

Reviewer: Jane Penistan



Director Bill Millerd Musical director Bruce Kellett Musical staging Valerie Easton Set design Pam Johnson Costume stylist Rebekka Sorensen Lighting design Marsha Sibthorpe Stage manager Caryn Fehr




Jacques Brel is alive at the Arts ClubJacques Brel is alive and very well at the Granville Island Stage.  This is the third resurrection of Jaques Brel for the Arts Club Theatre.  The incarnation was in 1972 at the old Seymour Street Theatre, in Bill Millerd's first year with the Arts Club.  The show was such a success that it ran for seven months - a record for a local company.  The original cast of Leon Bibb, Ann Mortifee, Ruth Nichol and Pat Rose celebrated the silver anniversary by remounting the show in 1997, again with marked success.  Sandwiched in between were two other showings in 1985 and 1987.  Now in 2004, after forty years of survival and success The Arts Club is showing the up and coming generation immortal music and song.  Continuity is maintained by Leon Bibb who has assisted in this production.  The lyrics, the haunting melodies and harmonies are presented with polished dancing, singing and impeccable orchestral accompaniment, in a framework of the Eiffel tower against a backdrop of the glowing city of lights.

Gliding smoothly from number to number, the cast of four, Lovena B.Fox, Warren Kimmel, Karin Konoval and Matt Palmer sing and dance their way through the opening ensemble number, Marathon, followed by solos by each member of the cast, including Lorena Fox's I Loved,  Mathilde by Warren Kimmel and the humourous yet pitiful Bachelor's Dance by Matt Palmer.  After the comic trio Timid Frieda, Karen Konoval's My Death brings back the ever present Jacques Brel melancholy.  Now the tension rises through two solos by Matt Palmer, the quartet


The Desperate Ones, Lorena Fox in the haunting Sons of… to a rousing and powerful climax in Amsterdam in full voice from Warren Kimmel.

After the intermission, Act 11 opens with Matt Palmer as a toreador in The Bulls, with the company. In this set of lyrics there is always a faint hope for the future underlying the poignancy.  After the lighter hearted Middle Class duet by the two men, this hope begins to blossom in Lovena Fox's beautiful No Love You Are Not Alone, growing, in the almost hypnotic Carousel with its rising and falling melodic themes and waltz rhythm, to the triumphant finale, If We Only Have Love.  "If we only have love/ We can melt all the guns/ and then give the world / To our daughters and sons"(Jacques Brel)

The full house, first night audience rose to its feet in a well deserved ovation.  This excellent production is as enchanting as ever and as relevant in its messages.  The music will haunt you for days. Don't be put off by having seen Jacques Brel…. before.  You haven't seen this production.  Experience it.

Jacques Brel (Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris) runs at the Granville Island Stage, Granville Island, 12 February - 13 March, 2004, Monday through Saturday at 8.00 p.m. with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2.00 p.m.  For more information, special events, ticket prices and reservations call The Arts Club Box Office at 604-687-1644, or visit

© 2004, Jane Penistan