PUTNEY >> The Next Stage Arts Project has announced that it will host the final performance of Main Street Arts' production of "Jacques Brel in Alive and Well and Living in Paris" on Jan. 16 at Next Stage's newly renovated theater in Putney. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door.
While not a household name in America, Brel's "literate and incredibly emotional songs" (New York Magazine) became "part of the national consciousness of post-war Europe". His music has been recorded by over 400 professional recording artists, including everyone from Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra to Judy Collins and Nirvana, and translated into more than twenty-two languages. Europe's intelligentsia fell in love with songs such as, "Carousel" (originally, 'La Valse a Mille Temps'), considering it a three-minute musical meditation about life whirling and speeding out of control. The English version of "Quand on n'a que l'Amour" would become an early antiwar anthem in the United States during the Vietnam conflict and helped inspire the Beatles' song, "All You Need Is Love."
Brel caused a sensation in the late sixties when, at the height of his fame, he quit the stage and all but disappeared. For much of Europe it was as if Frank Sinatra and the Beatles suddenly vanished. Where had he gone? His English language translators Eric Blau and Mort Shuman tried to answer the question by incorporating his songs into a cabaret-style musical that became an award-winning standard of the Off-Broadway and regional stage.
Over the last few months Main Street Arts has taken "Jacques Brel" on the road, bringing it to a variety of locales from dinner clubs to theaters across the area. According to Main Street Arts' Co-chair Kathleen Bryar, "The idea of a starting a touring company was somewhat of an experiment this year. "Jacques Brel" seemed like a natural fit to launch the project." According to Bryar, MSA's Artistic Director David Stern knows the show intimately. "David has said he grew up with the cast recording, and you can tell his passion for the material when he talks about it. He's even become friends with Matt Blau, the son of the show's co-creator, and its leading lady, Elly Stone. We knew David would be true to the spirit of the original show and audiences will see that on stage."
MSA Managing Director Margo Ghia said the show is also intended to be part of Main Street Arts' planned outreach to other area cultural institutions. "When we completed our renovation, and expansion project, we wanted to go out into the community to celebrate that achievement. We also wanted to connect with the other wonderful area organizations and businesses that do so much for arts and culture in our area." Stern says he hopes Main Street Arts' outreach will lead to broader collaboration by theatrical and arts groups from across the region.
Stern noted that Next Stage's renovation and revitalization has been taking place even as Main Street Arts was completing its own renovation and expansion project. "Having always admired the efforts and accomplishments of our neighbor to the south, I am thrilled to have "Jacques Brel" begin what I hope is a long and mutually supportive relationship."
Next Stage Executive Director Maria Basescu agreed. "I'm so happy we'll be doing this presentation together! Next Stage is proud to collaborate with Main Street Arts, with whom we share a strong commitment to using the arts to build our communities." She said she looked forward to finding more opportunities to work together in the future.
For more information or to order tickets, call Main Street Arts at 802-869-2960 or go to mainstreetarts.org.