Photo by Don Kellogg

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

First things first - the Zipper Theater is a bona fide dump!

Now that we have gotten that out of the way - this indeed was one of the best musical shows I have seen all year - a total surprise! Put together by Eric Blau and Mort Shuman in 1968 from the original French musical by the show's namesake - Jacques Brel - it will knock your socks off!

The show originated at a time of similar national discord - during the Vietnam War. Jacques Brel's music and lyrics speak volumes about the common man, the proletariat, love and war, and emotional loss. A theme that seems eerily relevant once again today.

There is no dialogue in this show - but there is a story. The story is artfully told through the lyrics and the emotion of each Brel song - a pastiche of sorts. Powerful and provocative, the four performers brilliantly bring this show to life. Robert Cuccioli, Constantine Maroulis (of American Idol fame), Jayne Paterson and Gay Marshall breathe a vibrant life into this gem.

Under Gordon Greenberg's direction - the actors take turns in this review - some solo, some ensemble - telling tales of joy and pain, of war and soldiers, of loves and lives lost, of happy gay times that are interrupted by war. The styles range from rock to ballad to lounge to tango to show tune and beyond. Gay Marshall sings some of the songs in French - but don't worry - you will understand and feel. The emotions are raw and powerful.

Despite the atrocious seating and dilapidated house, this play is honestly worth the value of a full price ticket. I don't say that very often -- and guess what-- you won't have to pay it - there are plenty of discounts out there - - to lure you into one of the finest off-Broadway shows you can find in 2007!