Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
May 17, 2011 - June 5, 2011
Production conception, English lyrics, and additional material by Eric Blau and Mort Shuman
Based on Jacques Brel’s lyrics and commentary
Music by Jacques Brel
Directed by Daniel Ostling
May 17 – June 5, 201
Naughty, funny, dark, and romantic…this is a spectacular, twisty, and intoxicating revue of the work of singer-songwriter Jacques Brel. Over half a century after they were written, Brel’s songs retain their edgy vibe in a show The New York Times calls “a potent mixture of romanticism and cynicism, world-weariness and jaunty whimsy.” If you've seen it before, you've never seen it like this. If you've never seen it, it's about time!
Conception, English Lyrics and Additional Material
Eric Blau was a distinguished novelist, poet, playwright, lyricist, film scenarist, and producer-director in theatre, film, and television. Blau was introduced to the music of Jacques Brel by his wife, Elly Stone. He became infatuated with Brel’s work and, with Mort Shuman, devised the musical revue Jacques Brel, translating the lyrics and adding original material to wrap around the music. The original production featured Shuman and Stone as part of the cast of four. In his early career, Blau was a children’s television producer, a ghost writer and an editor of a Communist literary magazine. After Jacques Brel he published several novels; his poetry was published in the United States and abroad, and translated by the great French poet Paul Eluard. Mr. Blau won his first literary prize in 1938, a first prize of four dollars in the City College of New York Humor Contest. He died in 2009 at the age of 87.
Conception, English Lyrics and Additional Material
Mort Shuman was an American singer, pianist, and songwriter, best known as co-writer of many 1960s rock-and-roll hits. With his songwriting partner Doc Pomus, who he met when he was 16, he wrote many pop hits including “Surrender” and “Little Sister” for Elvis Presley, “This Magic Moment” and Save the Last Dance For Me’ for The Drifters, and “Teenager in Love” for Dion and the Belmonts. During a visit to Paris, Shuman discovered the work of Jacques Brel. After moving to Paris, Shuman also became a star in his own when several of his French-language songs (filtered through a New York accent) became hits. In 1991, shortly before undertaking a musical based on his life, Shuman died at the age of 52 in a London hospital from complications due to a liver operation. In 1992, he was elected into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, and in 2010 he was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in New York.
Jacques Brel (April 8, 1929 - October 9, 1978) was a Belgian French-speaker author-composer with such a strong power of expression in his lyrics that many consider him a poet as well. He also had some minor activity as an actor and director. He was born in Schaerbeek, Belgium, a small city north of Brussels.
Director, Scenic Designer
Daniel Ostling is a freelance Scenic Designer based in San Francisco and NYC. Mr. Ostling has been an ensemble member of Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago since 1997. He works extensively with director Mary Zimmerman having designed numerous productions including Metamorphoses, for which he was nominated for a 2002 Tony Award. He has worked at numerous regional theaters including Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York Shakespeare Festival and The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, McCarter Theatre, Goodman, Steppenwolf, A.C.T./SF, Berkeley Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Mark Taper Forum, Seattle Rep, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Huntington, Arena Stage, Alley, Hartford Stage, Alliance, Syracuse Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Dallas Theater Center, South Coast Rep, California Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Theatre, and Portland Center Stage, among others. Internationally, his work has been seen at the Barbican and the Donmar Warehouse in London and the Melbourne Theatre Company in Australia. Opera designs include La Sonnambula and Lucia di Lammermoor (Metropolitan Opera), The Merry Widow (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Ainadmar (Tanglewood Music Festival, LA Philharmonic), Philip Glass’ Galileo Galilei (BAM/ Barbican/Goodman Theatre), Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi (San Francisco Opera Center). Upcoming projects include Verona Project (California Shakespeare Festival), Once in a Lifetime (A.C.T./SF), and Candide (Huntington). He is an Associate Professor at Northwestern University in Chicago (on leave for the 2010/11 school year).
Rona Figueroa is an American actress, singer, songwriter, and fine artist, mostly known for her musical-theater work in New York City. Broadway: Kim in Miss Saigon, Eponine in Les Miserables (and 3rd National Tour), Juliette in Nine (Revival), Yoko standby in Lennon, and Fantine u/s in Les Miserables (Revival). Her New York credits include Daisy in Dogeaters (Public Theater); Grusha in Caucasian Chalk Circle at (Vineyard); and Adelfa in The Female Heart (Clurman Theatre). Other credits include: Scaramouche u/s in We Will Rock You (Vegas), Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar (NSMT), Mimi in Rent (Weston, VT), Luciana in Boys from Syracuse (CENTERSTAGE). Film: Lian in Dragonheart: A New Beginning (Universal Pictures), Reese in Slow Jam King (Riding Mower Entertainment). QUASILULU was her rock band for several years out of which she penned and self-produced two albums, eponymously named and available on iTunes. Most recently she was commissioned by Red Bull Theater, a New York-based classical company, to write and perform the music to the songs in Caryl Churchill’s play Vinegar Tom. Her music can be sampled on myspace.com/Ronabologna.
Andy Kelso is thrilled to be revisiting Jacques Brel in this production after having performed it in Paris many years ago via a high school theater exchange....with over twice as many cast members. Go Raptors. Broadway: Mamma Mia (Sky). Regional: Rent (Mark), Two Rooms (Michael), The Drawer Boy (Miles), Fiddler on the Roof (Perchik), Footloose (Ren/Chuck), Big River (Young Fool). Film/TV: The Producers, Thank You...Next (web series). Andy studied acting at the University of Northern Colorado, has been a part of various garage bands throughout the years, and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity. Huge thanks to my family, my NYC family, Coxo, and everyone at The Gage Group. www.andykelso.com
Forrest McClendon is making his Two River debut in Jacques Brel. Forrest made his Broadway debut earlier this season as Mr. Tambo in The Scottsboro Boys, a role he created at the Vineyard and Guthrie theaters. Off-Broadway: James Baldwin: A Soul on Fire (New Federal Theatre). Regional favorites include: Avenue X (11th Hour Theatre Company, Barrymore Award), Sizwe Banzi Is Dead (Lantern Theater Company), The Threepenny Opera (Wilma Theater, Barrymore Award nomination), The America Play (Zachary Scott Theatre, Austin Theatre Critics’ Table Award), Julius Caesar (People’s Light & Theatre Company), A Christmas Carol (Westport Country Playhouse), Big River (Mt. Gretna Theatre), and The Maids (Walnut Street Theatre).
Lindsay Mendez was most recently seen on Broadway in Roundabout’s Tony-nominated production of Everyday Rapture, starring Sherie Rene Scott and directed by Michael Mayer. She made her Broadway debut as Jan in the 2007 revival of Grease, directed by Kathleen Marshall. Off-Broadway: Everyday Rapture (Second Stage), The Marvelous Wonderettes (Westside Theatre). Other recent credits include: 35mm (Urban Stages, directed by Daisy Prince), The Trouble with Doug (NAMT, directed by Victoria Clark), The Marvelous Wonderettes (Sacramento Music Circus), Band Geeks! (NAMT), Rated RSO: The Music and Lyrics of Ryan Scott Oliver (Kennedy Center, NYMF), Footloose (Sacramento Music Circus, Kansas City Starlight), Princesses (NAMT, Goodspeed Opera House, 5th Avenue Theatre), Grease (European Tour, Fulton Opera House), Call Me Madam (Reprise!), Go the Distance, and The Lyrics of David Zippel (Jazz at Lincoln Center, Kaufman Center). Recordings include: Grease (OCR), New York City Christmas (a benefit for ASTEP), and Everyday Rapture (OCR). Lindsay can be seen and heard all over New York City singing jazz and contemporary music with her collaborator Marco Paguia and his jazz trio. www.LindsayMendez.net
David Malachowski is a touring guitarist, producer, musical director, and journalist living in Woodstock, New York. He has toured with multi-platinum artists, Grammy winners, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members, Grand Ole Opry stars and Broadway stars, including Shania Twain, Savoy Brown, Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, Janie Fricke, Garth Hudson, Anthony Rapp & Adam Pascal. Other credits include productions of Always ... Patsy Cline, Hank Williams: Lost Highway, It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, and Without You.
Joshua Samuels has traveled the world playing drums/percussion. Off-Broadway credits include: Altar Boyz, The Marvelous Wonderettes, Top 8: The Musical, Bunked!: A New Musical (FringeNYC, winner best musical 2010). NYMF shows include: Plagued, My Scary Girl (winner best musical 2009). Off-Off Broadway: Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party (Circle in the Square), Children of Eden (Astoria Performing Arts Center), John & Jen (45th Street Theatre), Once on This Island (York Theatre), The Trouble with Doug (CAP 21). His regional credits include You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Two River Theatre), Daniel Maté’s The Longing and the Short of It (under the direction of William Finn, Barrington Stage). Josh also orchestrates and arranges percussion for many prominent composers in NYC.
Joseph Wallace is an in-demand double/electric bass player and music educator in New York City. He has performed and recorded with countless musicians of many different styles, including jazz, pop, R&B, rock, and musical theater. Credits include a 29-hour showcase of the new musical Trails by Jeffrey Thomson and Jordan Mann at New World Stages. Joseph also recently performed in the bass section for the premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s opera Sumeida’s Song which debuted at the Ethical Culture Society of New York City. He can also be found performing with several different with BMG/Cherry Lane artists and other singer/songwriters around New York City.
Daniel Pelzig Broadway: 33 Variations, A Year with Frog and Toad. Off-Broadway: Valhalla (NYTW), The New Moon (Encores!), Regrets Only, newyorkers (Manhattan Theatre Club), Privates on Parade (Roundabout). Metropolitan Opera: Lucia di Lammermoor, La Sonnambula, Iphigenie en Tauride, Armida, all HD Broadcasts. Regional: 33 Variations and The Woman Warrior (Ahmanson), My Fair Lady (Shaw Festival, Canada), Candide and Pericles (Goodman), The Winter’s Tale (Guthrie), Candide, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, The Dog in the Manger, Romeo and Juliet and Edward II (Shakespeare Theatre), 33 Variations (La Jolla Playhouse), War Music (American Conservatory Theater), Sweeney Todd (Kennedy Center, Sondheim Celebration), Don Juan (Old Globe/McCarter), Showboat and Carousel (Hollywood Bowl), Avenue X (Alliance), Ragtime (Pioneer Theatre), Into the Woods (Kansas City Rep), Company, The Mikado, HMS Pinafore and A Christmas Carol (Huntington). Opera: Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, and Seattle Opera. Directing credits include Guys and Dolls at Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Countess Maritza at Santa Fe Opera, The Bartered Bride at Opera Boston, Carmen at Central City Opera, Turandot at Fort Worth Opera, Akhnaten at Opera National du Rhin (Strasbourg, France) and Iphigenie en Tauride at Palau des Arts (Valencia, Spain). Ballet: Four years as Resident Choreographer for Boston Ballet. Television: Segment director, One Life to Live. Mr. Pelzig earned his degree in cellular biology from Columbia University.
Music Director, Conductor, Keyboards
Greg Brown is thrilled to be back at TRTC, having music directed last season’s You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. Other credits include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Broadway, Chicago), Spamalot (1st National Tour), and The Boy Friend, directed by Julie Andrews (National Tour). As music director, musician, arranger, and orchestrator, Greg has worked with Manhattan Theatre Club, The Atlantic Theater, North Shore Music Theatre, Weston Playhouse, Capital Repertory Theatre, Theatreworks USA, The Music Theatre Company, NAMT Festival of New Musicals, New York Musical Theatre Festival, CAP 21, and Goodspeed Musicals, among others. In addition to his music direction and arranging, Greg serves on the Theatre Arts faculty of the University of Miami, Coral Gables, and is a graduate of Northwestern University.
Jessica Ford Previous Two River credits include A Thousand Clowns, The Underpants, A Year with Frog and Toad, and Orestes: A Tragic Romp. At Long Wharf Theatre: A Doll's House, The Fantasticks, the world premiere of Athol Fugard’s Coming Home, The Price, and The Santaland Diaries (Set Design). Other regional credits: Arena Stage, Baltimore CENTERSTAGE, Syracuse Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Folger Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare & Company, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, among others. Select New York credits: Page 73, The Play Company, Second Stage, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Pearl Theatre. MFA: Yale School of Drama. Awards: 2007-09 Recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Directors and Designers.
Lee Fiskness is thrilled to be working on Jacques Brel. Lee is based out of Chicago where he has designed companies including Lookingglass Theatre, American Music Theatre Project, Northwestern University, Griffin Theatre, American Blues Theater, Northlight Theatre, Next Theatre, About Face Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and The Hypocrites. He received a Master of Fine Arts in Lighting Design from Northwestern University. Lee was nominated for a Jeff Award for Next Theatre’s End Days. He has also worked for companies including The Guthrie Theater, Park Square Theatre, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Opera Colorado, Portland Opera, Harpo Studios, and he will be returning to the Santa Fe Opera for his 10th Season as a Lighting Supervisor.
Drew Levy - Broadway: The Importance of Being Earnest, Present Laughter. Off-Broadway: Why Torture is Wrong..., Emergence-See!, Rainbow Kiss, Rock Doves, Dutchman (AUDELCO “Viv” nom.), The Mistakes Madeline Made. Regional: Our Town, A Funny Thing Happened... Forum, Quartermaine’s Terms, She Loves Me, The Corn Is Green, Crimes of the Heart (Williamstown); She Stoops to Conquer (McCarter); Pirates!, The Corn Is Green, She Loves Me, Present Laughter, The Cherry Orchard, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Sisters Rosensweig, Burn This, and the world premiere of Sonia Flew (Huntington); Shipwrecked! (Long Wharf). Associate credits: Rock of Ages, That Championship Season, Women on the Verge..., Everyday Rapture (Drama Desk nom.),The 39 Steps (Tony Award), South Pacific, Cymbeline, Happiness, Apple Tree, Adding Machine, and the Metropolitan Opera’s 125th Anniversary Gala. Drew holds an MFA from Boston University.
Zachary Williamson is pleased to be designing again for Two River, where his previous designs include Opus, Charlie Brown, 26 Miles, ReEntry, Glass Menagerie, Charlatan’s Seance, Umbrellas of Cherbourg and House of Blue Leaves. Recent New York designs include Vanities (Judy Ivey, dir.; Second Stage), Make Me a Song (Rob Ruggiero, dir.), Molly Sweeney, White Women Street, The Aristocrats, The Master Builder, The Hairy Ape and 14 other productions at Irish Rep, Secrets of a Soccer Mom (Judith Ivey, dir.), and The Shape of Metal (Brian Murray, dir.; Origin/59E59). As assistant designer on Broadway: The Ritz and Pal Joey (Roundabout). Regionally, he has designed for Kansas City Rep, Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, Ordway St. Paul, Pasadena Playhouse, Roundhouse, Clarence Brown, Virginia Stage, Asolo, TheaterWorks Hartford, St. Louis Rep, Vermont Stage and Syracuse Stage. Zach is a member of United Scenic Artists, local 829.
Janet Foster, C.S.A.
Janet Foster, C.S.A. - Broadway: The Light in the Piazza (Artios nomination), Lennon, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Taking Sides (co-cast) and the upcoming Broadway revival of Talley’s Folly. Off-Broadway: Lucy, Close Ties, Brundibar, True Love, Endpapers, The Dying Gaul, The Maiden’s Prayer, Dream True, Trojan Women: A Love Story. Playwrights Horizons: Floyd Collins, The Monogamist, A Cheever Evening, Later Life and many more. Regional: Intiman, Seattle Rep, ACT, California Shakespeare Theater, Berkeley Rep, Dallas Theater Center, Pittsburgh Public, Yale Rep, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, Old Globe, CENTERSTAGE, Westport Country Playhouse, and ART. Film/TV/Radio: Cosby (CBS), Tracy Takes on New York (HBO), The Deal by Lewis Black and Advice from a Caterpillar (BBC World Services and Blackhawk Productions), The Day That Lehman Died (Peabody, SONY, and Wincott Award winner). Ms. Foster is also an adjunct at Fordham University and a guest lecturer at professional training programs around the country.
Production Stage Manager
Pamela Edington is delighted to be a part of TRTC’s production of Jacques Brel. She has just finished work on the premiere of the family musical Freckleface Strawberry, based upon Julianne Moore’s book. Favorite memories include the Broadway productions of Coastal Disturbances and The Weir, Collected Stories (with Ms. Uta Hagen), The Green Heart, Three Mo’ Tenors, Limonade Tous les Jours and, most recently, Academy for the Daegu International Arts Festival. Special love and thanks to Mark.
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