I saw BREL at the www.SILOtheatre.co.nz– it is an amazing production! If you have the chance, run and see it!
Now I am a fan of Jacques Brel’s chansons – his was the first non-mainstream music I connected with oh so many years ago, and the first music that spoke to me. So to see it interpreted now is an amazing experience and I loved the show I saw in StratfordON a few years back.
This was a totally different experience, but to me even better – and not because I was privileged by the company I was in. This time all four performers contributed their talents to make a perfect show work. And work it did!
Jennifer Ward-Lealand left me absolutely breathless with “Marieke” – she later confessed she had a flemish friend help her with her pronounciation – but with her being this tall, gorgeous blonde you could just see her as being flemish when she sang. She has this dark, slightly “dirty” voice that goes so well with Brel’s intentions, so she is the perfect cast for his chansons.
And Jon Toogood – he is actually fronting a New Zealand rockband named Shihad (apparently he’s influenced by AC/DC – one of my fav bands btw, so nothing could go wrong there) and a band The Adults (www.http://theadults.co.nz/) and he is such a stage-animal – his interpretation of “Next” is an amazing glimps into the desperate wish to get away, to be special, just once, to be someone and not just “next”! He brought the feisty, the laughing in the face of death and devil Brel to the stage, with a broad stance and the rage of a rockstar and it fit so well.
Add to that an incredible Tama Waipara who flirts with every female in the audience – yes, he flirted with me and I had a good long laugh about it – he is an amazing performer. He was starting the intro number La Diable (Ca Va) and he had the audience with the first notes of the song. His Fanette – outstanding.
And last but not least the very talented Julia Deans who brings the right sashay into the mix: her interpretation of I loved was extraordinary, as was “Carousel” which she spearheaded – this was the first number of the second act (and the first act had ended on a high note with “port of Amsterdam” that left me goosebumped) and I had thought it was rather brave to start with this – but it turns out I needn’t have to worry – it was as if intermission had never happened. An amazing take off of the second half that brought us Jennifer’s grand “ne me quitte pas” and had us all in a standing ovation afterwards.
Most surprising for me though was the Brel original of the flower power hit “Seasons in the sun” Le Moribond – which is so much more than the happy go lucky and rather castrated version Terry Jacks made famous. This was a powerful song about a dying man giving himself his own eulogy, and with sarcasm and wit tells everyone and death where to stick it. An amazing experience!!!
And so I end this review with me admitting I do not agree with Jacques Brel who once said:
I don’t write poetry, I am no poet. I write songs.
Poetry has nothing to do with songs.
I think it has and it was proven bei “Brel” at the Silo theatre.