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Jacques Brel with Teenagers

The Source Theatre is hosting the 23rd Annual Washington Theatre Festival this August. One of the events on the Festival's schedule is the musical "Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris." In the 1960s, Eric Blau and Mort Schuman translated some of their favorite Jacques Brel songs into English and produced a sort of revue. Purists may complain that this show doesn't have the same power as Brel's own performances, but it has been a vehicle to bring his work to English speakers. It certainly made a big impression on me when I saw the show for the first time as an undergraduate music major. At that point I had already been to France as an exchange student, and on the next trip I made to France, I bought every Brel recording I could find. Everyone was quick to point out that Brel was Belgian, so don't make that mistake as I did. In any case, French friends were very happy to take my interest in Brel's music and lead me to Edith Piaf, Juliette Gréco, Charles Aznavour, Michel Legrand, and Serge Gainsbourg. If you want to read about Jacques Brel (1929-1978) and look at some phenomenal pictures of him, go to the Fondation Jacques Brel Web site from Brussels. Also, Brussels is hosting a Brel festival this summer.

The show will be performed by the Musical Theatre Institute for Teens, under the auspices of Source Theatre's Theatre Lab. This is a group of talented high school students under the direction of Jane Pesci-Townsend, with the musical leadership of Frank Pesci and yours truly at the keyboard. Performances are at 8 pm from July 31 to August 2.

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