Belfast Telegraph

Life of Belgian chanson king who influenced Bowie and Leonard Cohen hits the Belfast stage

By Kirsten Elder

Audiences are being promised a surprise when the life and times of legendary Belgian singer Jacques Brel is enacted on the Belfast stage.

The off-Broadway musical review Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris opens at the Lyric Theatre on 11 November for a limited run until 15 November 2014.

Brel was perhaps the best known master of the modern chanson, or French lyrical songs and is said to have influenced top modern songsters like  David Bowie, Alex Harvey, Leonard Cohen and Marc Almond.

The play, performed by Blunt Fringe Theatre, features 22 songs from Brel's life told through four main characters.

Director Matthew Johnson said: “We have all tried to represent Jacques Brel traditionally but also with a modern twist…the audience will not be able to anticipate what will happen”.

The production features a cast that includes stalwarts from the world of musical theatre including Philip Rham, Joanna Strand, Colette Lennon and Gerard McCabe, who between them have performed on the West End, on national tour, in film blockbusters and on national TV.

Jacques Brel (8 April 1929 – 9 October 1978) was a singer-songwriter who composed and performed thoughtful and theatrical songs that generated a large devoted following, initially in Belgium and France, and later throughout the world.

His much-translated songs of love, death, bruised romance and equivocal cynicism have influenced generations of artists.

Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris is a “powerful and bold theatrical experience”, according to the Lyric, that was an overwhelming success in its original off-Broadway production in 1968 and in subsequent runs in Sydney, Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin.

It was proclaimed  “Musical storytelling at its finest!” (The New York Post) and Time Out New York dubbed it “The best musical revue ever!”

It is the second show from the new theatre company, Blunt Fringe, based in Belfast and it follows on the heels of their inaugural production of The World Goes ‘Round earlier this year.

For info/tickets see

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