Christine Andreas: Piaf, No Regrets

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Christine Andreas

Piaf, No Regrets

Venetian Room, San Francisco, December 2, 2018

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Christine Andreas
Photo: Stacy Sullivan

Christine Andreas—multiple-award winning singer, actress, and two-time Tony nominee—brought her acclaimed one-woman show and CD Piaf, No Regrets, to an enthralled audience by Bay Area Cabaret. Partly in an attempt to demystify the cultural icon, Andreas relates Piaf’s story of adversity, tragedy, and great successes in an attempt to set the record straight. The show not only will introduce a new audience to Piaf’s legacy, but cement Andreas as one of the finest cabaret performers currently gracing the stage.

Opening with “Hymne a L’Amour” (Piaf/Marguerite Monnot), Piaf’s poignant love letter to the love of her life, the late boxer Marcel Cerdan, Andreas expresses both the strength and vthe ulnerability of love and loss which resonates so clearly in Piaf’s works. A champion of the common man, Piaf grew up with nothing and sang of the people who populated the poor section of Paris.

“L’Accordeoniste” is an example of a “chanson realiste” the plaintive tale of a prostitute who falls in love with a musician whom she loses to war. She’s swept up in her emotions but remains in love with the music and her memories of her lost love, asking the music to stop on the last line (“arrêtez cette musique”). Interestingly, the song was composed by Jewish-French composer Michel Emer, né Michel Benjamin Rosenstein.

He was among the many people Piaf helped hide during the Nazi occupation of France.

Andreas can go from 0 to 60 with ease, starting slow and quiet, then rising to goose-bump-inducing crescendos that leave one giddy. Accompanied by her husband, Grammy-nominated arranger/composer Martin Silvestri on piano (and, of course, on the accordion), together they sang the cute duet of “Poor People of Paris” (Jack Lawrence/Marguerite Monnot/Rene Gustave Rouzaud). Some numbers included English lyrics along with the French, such as the stunningly beautiful ballad “Autumn Leaves” (“Les Feuilles Mortes”) and Henri Content and Norbert Glanzberg’s catchy waltz “Paddam, Paddam.

” Andreas’ French is impeccable, and her voice is clear and resonant.
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Her rendition of Piaf’s signature song “La Vie en rose,” with its controlled tremolo, moved the audience to its first standing ovation.

Jacques Brel’s haunting “Ne me quitte pas” and its English version by Rod McKuen (“If You Go Away”) and the ever-popular “Non, je ne regrette rien” (Charles Dumont/Michel Vaucaire) were sublimely sung, adding to the transcendent atmosphere of the evening. Andreas bounced along rhythmically with her husband’s period accordion melodies. Following French meter, she skillfully connected the rhyme of words with the melody.

With her historical Piaf anecdotes, her complete mastery of the material, and her inimitable charm, Andreas has achieved perhaps the definitive Piaf tribute show. She channels the soul and passion of Piaf and ups the ante with her superior technical ability. By the rousing encore of “Milord,” Andreas had the crowd hooting and clapping along with the beats of the “working class” girl who falls for an elegantly dressed British man (“milord”). Piaf, who played the Venetian Room back in her day, was certainly watching Andreas’ show in spirit, and for one gorgeous night, we all traveled to a smoky, bustling cafe in Pigalle for an intimate set of magic.
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Steve Murray

Always interested in the arts, Steve was encouraged to begin producing and, in 1998, staged four, one-man vehicles starring San Francisco's most gifted performers. In 1999, he began the Viva Variety series, a live stage show with a threefold mission to highlight, support, and encourage gay and gay-friendly art in all the performance forms, to entertain and document the shows, and to contribute to the community by donating proceeds to local non-profits. The shows utilized the old variety show style popularized by his childhood idol Ed Sullivan. He’s produced over 150 successful shows, including parodies of Bette Davis’s gothic melodramedy Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Joan Crawford’s very awful Trog. He joined Cabaret Scenes 2007 and enjoys the writing and relationships he’s built with very talented performers.