Saturday, August 8, 2020

270. JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS (two productions). From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Elly Stone.

JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS [Return Engagement] M/L: Jacques Brel; LY/ADD. MTL: Eric Blau and Mort Shuman; SC: Lyrics and commentary by Jacques Brel; D: Moni Yakim; S: Les Lawson; P: Bill Levine; T: Royale Theatre; 9/15/72-10/28/72 (51)

Elly Stone, Joe Masiell, Henrietta Valor, George Ball.

Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris had opened Off Broadway at the Village Gate on January 22, 1968, and closed on July 2, 1972, after 1,847 performances. Meanwhile, it had become an international hit as well, and had multiple later revivals. The cabaret-style revue here moved for a brief engagement to a Broadway venue in what was essentially a return engagement.

Reviews ranged from Douglas Watt’s approval of it as “a unique and polished entertainment” to Anthony Mancini’s suggestion that “euthanasia” was in order. Those who were bored disliked what they deemed its sentimental, unmelodic, and unoriginal music, and banal, sloppily conceived lyrics, while the more receptive viewers approved its “heady blend of irony, sentiment and bitterness (Watt) and its theatrically fluid staging.

Elly Stone, the only member of the original cast, received the best reviews, with Joe Masiell the runner-up, although even they did not please everyone.


[Revival] S/C: Don Jensen; L: Ian Calderon; P: 3W Productions and Lily Turner; T:P Astor Place Theatre (OB); 5/17/74-9/1/74 (125)

Less than two years after its last performance Jacque Brel had its first New York revival. Its continuing appeal kept it around for four and a half months. The original director was again in charge, and the singers all had played in previous versions, in New York or on the road. In the cast were Jack Blackton, Barbara Gutterman, Stan Porter, Howard Ross, Ann Mortifee, and Henrietta Valor,