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Fringe Review: Piaf and Brel: The Impossible Concert

By Colin Noden on June 19, 2018

Image courtesy of the Ottawa Fringe Festival

Piaf and Brel: The Impossible Concert
by Melanie Gall

60 min / Cabaret, Musical / PG

This play is a kaleidoscope experience of excellent music and story, in an homage to Piaf and Brel. Melanie Gall’s classic training is wrapped up in a girl next door personality, then takes us through a series of beautiful vignettes.

On the face of it, you have a student who Fate decides should specialize in performing the music of Piaf and Brel. What we get are three biographies, thirteen songs, and a few singalongs as we become enchanted by Melanie’s storytelling ability. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know the words to have a good time.

It starts out with the anthem songs. The songs we all know but wish we knew deep in our bones. As they were sung, my imagination turned the black set into a bar where the patrons reach that sentimental stage and begin to sing out in romantic defiance. I expected to see some world weary, but still hopeful, Bogart-like figure smoking in the shadows.

Melanie’s voice and stage presence continues to guide us from character to character, and time to time as this beautiful jumble of music and stories goes on for the next hour. We’re given interesting tidbits of knowledge and some sympathetic laughs as life and song are knitted together.

And then it’s over, with what are considered the requiem songs of both singers. We’ve gotten to know all the singers, and our fellow audience members a bit better. A very nice feeling to have as we climb out of the dark room and into the present.

I should point out a couple things which Melanie mentions at the beginning of the play. This is a homage, it is not an impersonation. So, don’t expect dramatic changes in mannerisms or voice. No smoke cured singing or authentic regional dialects. This is an Alberta gal with a wonderful story, who just happens to have an internationally trained operatic voice. How excellent is that?


Piaf and Brel: The Impossible Concert is playing at Studio Léonard-Beaulne (135 Séraphin-Marion Pvt) until Sunday June 24, 2018. Tickets cost $12. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.