Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

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Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
Music Jacques Brel
Lyrics Jacques Brel, Eric Blau, Mort Shuman
Book Eric Blau, Mort Shuman
Productions 1968 Off-Broadway

Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris is an American musical revue of the songs of Jacques Brel. It was filmed in 1975.

Original Off-Broadway Production[edit]

The original show debuted Off-Broadway on January 22, 1968 [1] at The Village Gate Theater in Greenwich Village and ran for more than four years. Its original performers were Elly Stone, Mort Shuman, Shawn Elliott, and Alice Whitfield. The production was directed by Moni Yakim with Production Supervision by Eric Blau. On January 25, 1972, a Fifth Year Gala, entitled "Hommage à Jacques," was celebrated at Carnegie Hall with Brel in attendance. His songs were interpreted by twenty-two artists, including George Lee Andrews, Jack Blackton, Chevi Colton, Sally Cooke, Jack Eddleman, Elinor Ellsworth, Rita Gardner, Amelia Haas, Robert Jeffrey, Judy Lander, Ted Lawrie, Carolyn Leslie, Joe Masiell, Arlene Meadows, Stan Porter, Betty Rhodes, Howard Ross, Mort Shuman, Elly Stone, Fran Uditsky, Henrietta Valor, and Alice Whifield. In 1974, it was revived at the Astor Place Theatre for a limited run.

The revue, consisting of around 25 songs, is performed by four vocalists, two male and two female. Jacques Brel contributed most of the music and French lyrics; English translations were provided by Eric Blau, Stone's husband, and Mort Shuman, a Brill Building songwriter responsible for such hits as "This Magic Moment", "Viva Las Vegas", "Teenager In Love", and others.

The production enjoyed considerable international success. In 1968 Moni Yakim directed a Canadian production which opened in Toronto featuring Robert Jeffrey, Judy Lander, Arlene Meadows, and Stan Porter. In the 1970s, a production by Taubie Kushlick in Johannesburg, South Africa became the longest-running musical production in that country's theatrical history. A cast recording was released and is regarded as containing the definitive English-language versions of some of the songs. In 1975, a film version of the original production was released as part of the American Film Theatre series. During that decade the show also enjoyed successful runs in Sydney, Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen.

In 1973, "Jacques Brel" was produced by Ray Shepardson in the lobby of Cleveland, Ohio's State Theatre. It was intended to play for two weeks, but continued through 1975, with a 522-performance run that remained the longest theatrical run in the city's history for many years. The performance is credited as a major factor in the rescue and restoration of the theater and its adjacent venues, which are now Playhouse Square Center, the largest theater complex in the USA outside of New York City.

A 1988 limited-run revival served as the 20th anniversary production of the show at Town Hall in Manhattan (and one night at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.). It was produced by Eric Blau and Dr. Reuben Hoppenstein and was directed by Elly Stone and starred Karen Akers, Shelley Ackerman, Elmore James and Kenny Morris.

In 1995 the show was revived in London starring Michael Cahill, Alison Egan, Liz Greenaway, and Stuart Pendred. A cast recording of this production was released on August 12, 1997 with Jay Records.

Revival Shows[edit]

In 2006, a new production opened Off-Broadway at the Zipper Theater in New York City for an open-ended run. While this revival used most of the same Blau-Shuman translations as the original production, there were also significant changes: the order of songs was rearranged, numbers were reorchestrated, and some songs were dropped or added. The revival also included expanded staging and choreography. The acclaimed reinvented production was the longest running and most successful revival of the show, running for more than a year. It was nominated for several awards including the Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle. It was directed by Gordon Greenberg with musical direction and new arrangements by Eric Svejcar and starred Robert Cuccioli, Natascia Diaz, Rodney Hicks, and Gay Marshall. The role played by Hicks was later done by Drew Sarich (July–October 2006), Jim Stanek (October 2006-January 2007), and former American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis (January–February 2007). Diaz was replaced by Jayne Patterson (January–February 2007), who had been an understudy in the production. Other understudies included Kevin del Aguila, Tamra Hayden, and Ann Mandrella, the wife of Sarich. The cast recording of the new production was recorded by Ghostlight Records for release on November 21, 2006.

In 2008, a new production starring Leigh McDonald, Tony McGill, Emma Yong and George Chan, ran at the DBS Theatre in Singapore for a limited run. It was directed by Nathalie Ribette and musically directed by Chris Nolan (musician).

In 2010, a new production ran in Stratford, Canada, at the Stratford Festival. It starred Jewelle Blackman, Brent Carver, Mike Nadajewski, and Nathalie Nadon.

Musical Numbers[edit]

Original Off-Broadway Production[edit]

  1. Overture
  2. Marathon (Les flamandes)
  3. Alone (Seul)
  4. Madeleine
  5. I Loved (J'aimais)
  6. Mathilde
  7. Bachelor's Dance (La bourrée du célibataire)
  8. Timid Frieda (Les timides) Tune also used in an Ovaltine television advert GB
  9. My Death (La mort)
  10. The Girls And The Dogs (Les filles et les chiens)
  11. Jackie (La chanson de Jacky)
  12. The Statue
  13. Desperate Ones (Les désespérés)
  14. Sons of... (Fils de...)
  15. Amsterdam
  16. The Bulls (Les taureaux)
  17. Old Folks (Les vieux)
  18. Marieke
  19. Brussels (Bruxelles)
  20. Fanette (La fanette)
  21. Funeral Tango (Le tango funèbre)
  22. The Middle Class (Les bourgeois)
  23. You're Not Alone (Jef)
  24. Next (Au suivant)
  25. Carousel (La valse à mille temps)
  26. If We Only Have Love (Quand on n'a que l'amour)
Songs added for the 1975 film version [2]
  1. The Taxi Cab (Le Gaz)
  2. My Childhood (Mon Enfance)
  3. The Last Supper (Le Dernier Repas)
  4. Song For Old Lovers (La Chanson Des Vieux Amants)
  5. Ne Me Quitte Pas, sung by Jacques Brel

2006 Off-Broadway Revival[edit]

References[edit]

  • The Singer's Musical Theatre Anthology by Stanley Green and Richard Walters