Pangea, NYC, November 2, 2016
Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes
After seeing Gay Marshall’s show Gay’s Paree at Pangea, I felt that I had spent an evening in Paris. The selection of songs about Paris was intertwined with an interesting and often very funny travelogue as Marshall described the places and events that her songs were about. Whether singing in French or English, Marshall has a big and often thrilling, but very controlled, voice that seems to be perfect for French chansons. The wide range of material allowed her to show off the quality of her singing. She was backed beautifully on piano by the appropriately dramatic Ian Herman. As an aside, I attended the show with a friend visiting from France who vouched for the authenticity of the accent and the quality of the translations of the American Marshall.
She opened with the very funny “Another Song About Paris” (Dave Frishberg), before performing 16 songs about the City of Lights. Marshall, who is known for her Edith Piaf tribute shows, performed her translation of Piaf’s “Marie la francaise.” A touching story of a little man who helped Marshall in her first stage appearance in France preceded her very moving performance of Charles Aznavour/Jacques Plante’s “La Boheme.” Her translation of the French lyrics to “Les feuilles mores” (“Autumn Leaves”) was much deeper and more meaningful than Johnny Mercer’s English lyrics. I was introduced to the French musical Star Mania by Marshall’s thrilling “Stone” from its score. “Je suis snob” (“I Am a Snob”) recalled, amusingly, an attitude I had encountered in my three visits to Paris. The closing number, featured in Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, “Quand on n’a que l’amour” (“If We Only Have Love”) was made more intense by Marshall’s literal English translation of the lyric. The encore, “Mon manège à moi” (“You Are the Merry-Go-Round”) had the show ending on a joyous note.