A cabaret-style revue concludes PICT’s new Downtown Series.
Pittsburgh, PA, March 30, 2015 – It’s springtime, and PICT Classic Theatre blossoms with the musical revue, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, which has already sold out for two performances, and many more have only a handful of seats remaining. This cabaret- style musical features twenty-five songs written by Jacques Brel, “master of chanson,” with English lyrics and additional material by Eric Blau and Mort Schuman. Running April 29 – May 9, this marks the second and final performance of PICT’s Downtown Series, bringing a fresh and intense musical experience to the Peirce Studio inside The Trust Arts Education Center at 805 Liberty Avenue.
PICT’s Artistic & Executive Director Alan Stanford chose Jacques Brel specifically for PICT’s 2015 season of Saints and Sinners. “Every character that materializes through these songs is either a saint or a sinner, and in many occasions, a bit of both,” explains Stanford, “Each song is about the goodness and badness within us. It expresses that wonderful range of human emotion.”
Originally an Off-Broadway production in 1968, Jacques Brel was adapted for film in 1975 and revived regionally and internationally. According to Stanford, “The 60s was a generation of imagination and inventiveness. The music of Jacques Brel is very much part of that invention, part of that tremendous outpouring of songs about the human condition, protest and the absurdity of being alive. His songs have the rare ability to laugh at themselves while making us cry.”
Jacques Brel, a Belgian, was considered the “master of chanson,” which is a lyric-driven French song. These tunes, brimming with European sophistication, have been translated and recorded worldwide by artists such as Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins. Stanford believes that this musical revue is the perfect way to honor such an influential musician: “If the man’s life is the creation of songs, you deal with songs, because that’s where that man’s soul resides— in the art.”
And, it will be easy for audiences to connect with the art in the intimate, 120- seat Peirce Studio. PICT will present Jacques Brel in cabaret style, and the audience will be wrapped around the performers. Following the principle of “less is more,” Jacques Brel will be staged as simply as possible to reflect the beautiful simplicity of Brel’s profound music.
Peirce Studio has played a very important role for PICT this season. “The Downtown Series has certainly opened up new ideas and new thoughts. It was a worthwhile journey. I learned a lot, and we as a company are learning a lot,” says Stanford, who sees Peirce Studio as a sort of laboratory for PICT to try new ideas. “If you are going to make what you do better, you must take the risk, see what you discover and then try to learn from it. I hope to continue the Downtown Series experiment next year.”
With performances already sold out, PICT is even adding value to the preview performance Wednesday night with a unique Belgian beer tasting at The Sharp Edge. “Come and see Jacques Brel. This is a classic example of the full range of ‘theatre,’ because here you will see music, you will see characterization, you will laugh, you will cry and your life is there right in front of you,” recommends Stanford, “Sit back and let it happen. Sit back and enjoy the music. Sit back and listen to the lyrics.”
PICT Classic Theatre is committed to the creation of high-quality, professional thought-provoking theatre of substance. As a theatre company, PICT promotes the community and region with education outreach, and also by consistently employing world-class talent who choose to call Pittsburgh their home. From the timeless truths that explore the depths of human nature, to the sharpest Irish wit— long after the curtain falls, PICT Classic Theatre seeks to remind audiences of the first moment they ever felt the power of a great performance.
About Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
A desperately romantic storytelling assisted by music, with two men and two women.
In this musical revue of twenty-five songs, the four performers can’t just be good singers— they must be excellent singers who can also tell stories. “Each song is about a different topic, and each song is about a different person,” says Stanford, “Through the use of words and music, they can engage you in the nature of the person whom the song is about.”
A Pittsburgh native and a proud member of Actor’s Equity, Caroline Nicolian is thrilled to be making her PICT debut in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Her most recent credits include My Fair Lady at Pittsburgh Public Theater, A Grand Night for Singing at St. Vincent’s Summer Theater and Judge Jackie Justice and Side by Side by Sondheim at the CLO Cabaret.
Justin Lonesome appeared recently as Henry in PICT’s world premiere, For the Tree to Drop, and his singing provided beautiful transitions throughout the show. Other credits include Jim Conley/Riley in Front Porch Theatricals’ Parade last fall, Barry Belson in the first national tour of Jersey Boys, Sargent Thomas in Soldier’s Heart and Che Guevara in Evita.
Daina Michelle Griffith, who played Ruth Condomine in Blithe Spirit at PICT last year, is returning to PICT for her fifth season. Other PICT credits include Greta in James Joyce’s The Dead, Octavia in Anthony and Cleopatra and Martin Giles’ world premiere Beautiful Dreamers. Honored as Performer of the Year in 2013 by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Daina has performed widely in Pittsburgh and many other cities, including Pittsburgh Public Theater, Quantum Theatre, City Theatre, The REP, Pittsburgh CLO, Kansas City Starlight, Human Race Theater, Gateway Playhouse, NYC International Fringe and more. She is also known for her acting in films such as The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Hollidaysburg (2014).
After his portrayal of George Anderson in Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, Jonathan Visser returns to PICT to show off his singing ability in Jacques Brel. Other PICT credits include Zygmunt in Our Class, Solyony in Three Sisters, Kosykh in Ivanov, Gurov in Yalta Game and Captain Neville St. Clair in The Crucifer of Blood. Audiences might also have seen Jonathan locally in Judge Jackie Justice or Ruthless at the CLO Cabaret, Orlando with Unseam’d Shakespeare, or at City Theatre, The REP and Bricolage. A proud graduate of the MFA program at the University of Tennessee, Jonathan has also appeared regionally at Dallas Theater Center, Casa Mañana, Clarence Brown Theater, Shakespeare Santa Cruz and Hope Summer Repertory.
Jacques Brel will be directed by Alan Stanford, who will also act as scenic designer. He will be assisted by Music Director Douglas Levine. The artistic team for this production includes costume design by Lindsay Tejan, sound design by Kris Buggey and lighting design by Steve Cuden.
About Jacques Brel:
Listen to Jacques Brel’s Music:
Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
By Jacques Brel, English lyrics and additional material by Eric Blau and Mort Shuman
Directed by Alan Stanford with Music Direction by Douglas Levine
The Peirce Studio inside the Trust Arts Education Center
805 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
April 29 – May 9, 2015
Please Note: This production will be performed without an intermission.
- Brel and Beer: Beer tasting and education at 7 p.m. at the Sharp Edge Bistro on Penn Avenue Downtown before the April 29 preview performance.
- Opening Night reception following the May 2 performance at 8 p.m. at The Sharp Edge Bistro on Penn Avenue Downtown. (Free to ticketholders for the May 2 performance.)
- Post-Show Talkback: Discussion and Q&A will follow May 3 performance.
- Early Tuesday Happy Hour with free appetizers at The Sharp Edge Bistro prior to the May 5 performance. (Free to ticketholders for May 5 performance)
- Pre-Show lecture from 7:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. before the May 6 performance. (Free and open to the public.)
- 10 a.m. student matinee on Wednesday, April 29.
- What’s the BIG DEAL… about Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris? A special package combining dinner, show-enhancing conversation and your seat at the performance on Thursday, May 7. Dinner at 6 p.m., performance at 8 p.m.
- American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation available Sunday, May 3, 2015 – 2 p.m. matinee. (Ticket for performance required.)