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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

PIAF! The Show, at The Palms at Crown and touring Australia - 2 hours, including a 20-minute interval

Noted for her interpretation of French ballads, Edith Piaf (19th December 1915 – 11th October, 1963) was one of the world’s most lauded singers.

 

Forever searching for love, her dramatic style and expressive voice appeared to reflect the troubled and difficult life she led.

 

Her small stature (she was only four foot eight inches tall) and stage fright resulted in her moniker, “The Little Sparrow”.

 

But the music and musical legacy of this extraordinary cabaret singer and songwriter was anything but slight.

 

PIAF! The Show was inspired by the award-winning movie La Vie En Rose (which was also her most famous song).

 

Conceived and directed by Nice-based theatrical maverick Gil Marsalla, it charts her rags to riches story.

 

It premiered on the centenary of her birth in 2015 and has since been seen by more than a million people in 50 countries.

 

Now, fortunately, it is Australia’s turn to enjoy and savour this special offering.

 

The effervescent Nathalie Lermitte transforms herself into the extraordinary Edith Piaf and has us – the audience – eating out of the palms of her hands.

 

Put simply, she is magnificent!

With glorious theatricality, Lermitte still manages to deliver an intimate show and one that you feel privileged to attend.

 

She channels heart and soul. She is sad and reflective, cheeky and cheery, eager and abundant. Above all, she is dynamic and inspiring, wowing us with her prowess.

 

Lermitte is accompanied by an accomplished four-piece band.

 

The first salvo is struck by Frederic Viale on accordion. Boy, can he make that instrument all but turn cartwheels.

 

He is subsequently joined by Philippe Villa on piano, Pierre Marcus on double bass and percussionist Nicolas Castagnola.

 

The striking lighting design by Andy Guignard helps chart the songstress’ rocky road and sets the tone.

 

Important, too, is the black and white, big screen backdrop, a visual tapestry of previously unreleased photos and video from the Piaf era.

 

Deeply evocative, it is a showcase of Paris back in the day.

 

When Lermitte first takes to the stage, we see only her, the accordionist and a park bench. We are in Mortmarte in 1930.

 

In quick time, she moves stage left, to a makeshift café setting, where she is joined by three dapper gents who share a bottle of red wine. Perfect.

 

It is they who, soon enough, take up position as members of the orchestra, alongside the squeeze box player.

 

What a treat and a delightful introduction to a stunning show.

 

Lermitte is thoroughly engaging and entertaining throughout. Her mellifluous vocals are intoxicating. She even introduces a few sing alongs.

 

Two 50-minute halves plus a 20-minute interval, I can’t recommend PIAF! The Show any more highly.

 

As the curtain is figuratively drawn, Lermitte steps off the stage, only to reengage with patrons in the foyer, readily signing autographs and posing for photos. Bravo.

 

Edith Piaf well and truly lives on in the guise of passion personified Nathalie Lermitte.

 

PIAF! The Show is playing at The Palms at Crown until 18th May, 2024 before touring the country throughout the rest of May and into June.

 

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