by: Paulanne Simmons
On January 13, Jacques Brel Returns once again returned to the Triad Theater. As we all know, the Belgian singer, songwriter and actor may have died in October 1978, but he has been “alive and well and living in Paris” since 1968 when the eponymous musical first opened at the Village Gate.
The revue ran for four years and generated various national and international productions. In 2006, a somewhat modified production opened at the Zipper theater. Since that time, revues of Brel’s work have been a mainstay on the cabaret scene.
Jacques Brel Returns was created by Dan Whitten and Mark Beigelman, producers of the 2006 Zipper theater revival. Now in its fourth year the revue features a revolving cast that now includes Sam Ludwig, Ereni Sevasti and Alexis Fishman, directed by Rick Hip-Flores at the piano.
Although most of the songs were sung in English, these talented artists were able to express much of Brel’s Gallic cynicism and irony, sweetened by a touch of humor. Ludwig’s “Girls and Dog’s” and “Madeleine” remained a rueful comment on women’s hold on men. Sevasti’s “Sons Of” and “Ne Me Quitte Pas” were filled with the tragedy of life. And Fishman’s “The Old Folks” and “My Death” spoke volumes about life’s inevitable conclusion.
Jacques Brel has been alive and well for so long in the United States that by now he is a naturalized citizen. Indeed many of the songs in Jacques Brel Returns might do very nicely in an old vaudeville sketch. Others could easily fit into Broadway.
Brel wrote about lovers and losers, the lost and the brokenhearted. But in some strange way, he also wrote about hope. Perhaps that is why he is still alive and so welcome in this country, the land of opportunity and second chances.
www.TriadNYC.com is located at 158 W 72nd St., (212) 362-2590.