by: Peter Haas
In a show that reshapes the concept of “cabaret,” the life, loves and songs of Edith Piaf were given exciting, memorable – and honest — treatment in music and dance by Rioult Dance NY. Performing as Piaf, perfection in her singing and acting, was theater star Christine Andreas.
The performances, to honor what would have been Piaf’s 100th birthday, took place over four evenings in the intimate cabaret club setting of 42 West, in the OUT NYC hotel. For the performances, dining tables and chairs in the middle of the huge room were removed and replaced by a runway jutting out from the proscenium stage, bringing the performers into the audience –in one instance representing the streets of Paris — to heighten the intimacy of the evening.
And superb performers they were. Andreas, dressed in a simple black dress, brought Piaf to life with simplicity and emotion, her throbbing singing closer to Piaf’s own style than most others have attained. Her songs, her acting, even her few dance steps, all were Piaf.
Sharing the stage, in dances interpreting some of the songs, were eight members of the Rioult troupe — young, graceful men and women in flowing moves choreographed by the company’s founder and director, French-born Pascal Rioult. Rioult himself took the stage to dance as Piaf’s lover, the boxer Marcel Cerdan, performing in a simple, yet effective, dance duet with Christine.
The production team included Don Rebic, music director; Brian Beasley, in charge of the effective rear-screen projections; Pilar Limosner, who designed the simple and appropriate costumes, and lighting designer Jim French.
The production deserves a long run and a larger audience – somehow, somewhere.
Photos: Paul B Goode