Jacques Brel: When We Have Only Love was written, arranged, directed, and designed by talented singers Bradley Greenwald, Diana Graselli, and Prudence Johnson along with master pianist Dan Chouinard (with additional musical accompaniment by Michelle Kinney on cello and Tim Sparks on guitar). The four take turns telling the story of Jacques Brel's life, from his birth in Brussels in 1929, through the war years, through his early career singing in cabarets in Paris, through international fame and success. And of course, along the way there is music. The cast performs over two dozen of Brel's songs, either the original lyrics in Brel's native Flemish-tinged French (with English translations displayed on a screen above the stage), or in English translated by various people with various degrees of success (including a couple of new translations by Bradley Greewald - yes, all that talent and he's multilingual too!). Images and photos are also displayed on the screen, helping to set the scene and tone of wherever we are in the story. The creators have done a great job weaving together songs and story to create a portrait of a man who was not always likeable, but was passionate, expressive, funny, clever, human, and a beautiful storyteller.
|Diana Grasselli, Prudence Johnson, Bradley Greenwald,|
and Dan Choinard
Jacques Brel's music is romantic, playful, witty, lovely, and very Parisian. It's the sound of sitting in an outdoor cafe in Paris, sipping coffee or drinking wine, listening to music waft through the sweet warm air. Or at least that's what I imagine it to be, I've only spent about a day and a half in Paris, 20 years ago (not counting the two hours last winter that my friend and I spent trying to navigate our way through the twisted and crowded streets to the highway in a rental car without GPS or a decent map, but that's a story for another day). Listening to this music makes me want to go to Paris, or at least Jacques Brel's Paris, if such a place exists anymore.
Jacques Brel: When We Have Only Love is a wonderfully entertaining trip through the life and work of a prolific songwriter who was previously unknown to me. I'm glad I got to know him a little. The show continues through next weekend only and tickets are going fast, so act now if you, too, would like to go on this lovely little journey.