Brilliant Brel

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris at the Charing Cross Theatre

You probably know more Jacques Brel songs than you think.  Ne Me Quitte Pas, anyone?  How about No Love You’re Not Alone (incorporated in David Bowie’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide)?  Terry Jacks’ Seasons in the Sun was Le Moribond with a new lyric, while Scott Walker had a hit record with Jacky in the late 1960s.

Singer songwriter Brel was born in Belgium in 1929, moving to Paris in 1953 to pursue his career in music.  Although he died young (aged 49) he left a remarkable legacy of chansons behind him, many of which focus on the darker side of life.  “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” a musical revue of his work, was first produced in New York in 1968.  The show reflects his strong anti-war stance, and features songs in English, French and Flemish.

The Charing Cross Theatre production has a heavy cabaret feel to it, which is all to the good.  The first half was enjoyable: Eve Polycarpou opened the show with Le Diable (Ca Va), followed by Daniel Boys and Gina Beck, who made a favourable first impression with If We Only Have Love. Musical Director and Pianist Dean Austin sang a brief solo with Le Moribond, and I particularly liked the closing number Amsterdam, powerfully sung by David Burt, which gave a flavour of what was to come after the interval.  I would have liked to hear some harmonies on The Desperate Ones, which was sung in unison by the full company, but by the time I got to the interval I was already impressed and looking forward to what was to follow.

Despite some feedback problems on the sound front, especially during “Middle Class” (which was a shame, as it was otherwise a very amusing number from David and Daniel), the second half blew me away.  Eve’s Ne Me Quitte Pas was profoundly moving, and Gina’s “My Death” totally rocked.  I’ve been lucky enough to see the wonderfully talented Camille O’Sullivan perform both of these, plus Amsterdam, live on more than one occasion, and Eve, Gina and David’s renditions in no way suffered by comparison.  Daniel Boys also gave a consistently strong performance throughout, with his Next being a particular standout.  Overall, the second half seemed to build to a final crescendo, with the full cast joining in for a reprise of If We Only Have Love at the end.

The four singers were ably supported on stage by band members James Cleeve, Felix Stickland, Doug Grannell and Richard Burden, as well as by Dean Austin as previously mentioned.  This excellent show was directed by Andrew Keates, and is well worth a viewing.

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris runs until 22 November 2014 at the Charing Cross Theatre, Monday – Saturday 7.45 pm, Saturday matinees 3pm.  Tickets are available from www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk.

My Million to One – Worth £1 of Your Money!

For almost a year, I have been attending free events run by My Million to One, a charity run by Alana Hurd, and backed by such big names as Richard E Grant and Jason Flemyng.  I have been to Q&As with both the aforementioned actors, as well as director Hugh Woolridge.  I have also been at a Mind Body Spirit workshop and a discussion about producing theatre.  There have been many others that I have wanted to go to but time or circumstances prevented me, such as Tai Chi, circus skills and book publishing to name but a few.  The subjects covered have been many and varied – from new age thinking to the arts to business to extreme sport and even exploration: Sir Ranulph Fiennes was one of the many wonderful people to give his time to the project.  There have also been many raffles throughout the year.

The workshops and Q&As will be drawing to a close before the end of the year, but transcripts of the Q&As will remain available for members to download from the internet and there are also dozens of discounts and offers to help people achieve their dreams.

My Million to One was founded to found a home for abandoned disabled children in Southern Africa. Alana was asked to help whilst volunteering in the area, so she approached a couple of small, local charities that she knew very well and they agreed to adopt the children and give them a home.  However, she has to meet two criteria in order for the arrangement to go ahead.  Firstly, to find money every year to pay for the children’s home, plus all their needs, education & rehabilitation costs; and, secondly, to guarantee that the money will be provided for their lifetimes.

Alana has found a unique way to do it – By making £1,000,000 by 22nd November 2014.

When a million of you join MMTO, paying £1 (+ 11p credit card charge) each ONCE ONLY, the interest alone from the £1,000,000 will build AND fund the home for the children in Africa, never requiring further investment again.  This is a brand new charity model in its own right.

A million sounds like a big number, but it’s really just 10 to the power of six, or in human terms six degrees of separation.  Let me explain.  I’ve paid a one-off donation of £1 to join My Million to One.  If I get 10 friends to do the same, that’s 101.  When each of those then gets 10 new friends to join, that’s 102, or 100.  They each persuade 10 other friends – 103, who invite 10 more friends each – 104.  Those friends do likewise and we have 105, and finally this last group each asks 10 friends and we have 106 or £1,000,000.  Plus my original £1 of course.  So in six easy steps we have created a forever home for disabled African orphans, and made an awful lot of friends.

Will you be one of my ten?

Read more about My Million to One here: http://mymilliontoone.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/my-million-to-one-the-3-whys/

or go straight ahead and join here: http://www.mymilliontoone.com/foyer

My Million to One really needs and deserves our support.  Join – and tell your friends!