Charles Aznavour: A Tribute Concert

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Charles Aznavour: A Tribute Concert

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, November 23, 2018

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Charles Aznavour

Departing from his usual Broadway-themed format, producer/director/writer/host Scott Siegel created a show of much délice et joie in honoring French singer-songwriter Charles Aznavour, who died this past October 1 at age 94. It’s the kind of départ Siegel should do more often.

Representative works from Aznavour’s vast repertoire of storysongs, notable for their great intensity and passion, were delivered by a talented, hand-picked cast of mostly singer-actors. Aznavour wrote in a multitude of languages, two of which Karen Akers tackled with “How Sad Venice Can Be” (“Que c’est triste Venise”) in Italian and a brilliant “L’Enfant” in French.

Her timing and delivery of the last word, “morte,” provided a stunning payoff. Alex Getlin and Gabrielle Stravelli offered their numbers in a Piaf-like style, with slightly nasal vibrato.

Getlin’s “To Die of Love” (“Mourir d’aimer”) arced to a big finish.

Stravelli’s “You’ve Got to Learn” (Il faut savoir”) was intensely affecting, but it was “The Sound of Your Name” (“Ton nom”) that was a certified showstopper with her stunning execution of the song’s depth and passion.

Always guaranteed to stop a show, William Michals delivered Aznavour’s stirring “Ave Maria” with his operatic baritone firing through every fiber of his being.
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Willy Falk had two choice pieces, both acted and sung with conviction: “What Makes a Man a Man” (“Comme ils disent”) and, in French, “La Boheme.” Willie Demyan was less successful with his two numbers. While he has a superb vocal instrument, he failed to convey the sense of urgency that inhabits most of Aznavour’s work. Thus, both “She” (“Tous les visages de l’amour”) and “Take Me Along” (“Emmenez moi”) seemed more pleasant than compelling.
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Also off the mark was Cooper Grodin. Despite a superior baritone, turning both “No, I Could Never Forget” (“Non, je n’ai rien oublié”) and (in French) “Yesterday, When I Was Young” (“Hier Encore”) into showy stadium anthems robbed both of their important nuance. Accompanying the talented cast was John Fischer at the piano.

Marilyn Lester

Marilyn Lester left journalism and commercial writing behind nearly two decades ago to write plays. That branch in the road led to screenwriting, script-doctoring, dramaturgy and producing for the stage. Marilyn has also co-authored, as well as edited, books. It seemed the only world of words she hadn’t conquered was criticism, an opportunity that presented itself via Theater Pizzazz. Marilyn has since sought to widen her scope in this form of writing she especially relishes. Marilyn is a member of the Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild, Women in the Arts and Media and The League of Professional Theater Women.