"Jacques Brel" Comes Alive at Cotuit Center for the Arts

The cast of
ALAN TRUGMAN - The cast of "Jacques Brel," opening February 2 at Cotuit Center for the Arts: (standing, from left) Austin DiBari, Ruth Condon Price, Anthony Teixeira; (sitting, from left) Michael Ernst, Kami Lyle, Martha Paquin

Jacques Brel may not actually be alive, but his spirit is about to be celebrated in big way with Cotuit Center for the Arts’ upcoming production of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.

Centerville native Kiley Donovan directs this fresh interpretation of a 1960s cult classic, in collaboration with musical director Geraldine Boles and choreographer Pam Wills.

Though this is her directorial debut, you may not want to tell Donovan to “break a leg.” She did just that in June 2010, causing her to postpone a planned move from New York to Los Angeles. Finding a potent arts scene on the Cape, she now keeps herself busy as program coordinator for the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod—and as a contributor to InsideOUT.

A fresh twist on a classic

Donovan’s diverse background in the New York fashion industry, screenwriting and playwriting makes her an ideal director for this production.

If you go...

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

Opens Thursday, February 2 with shows Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM and Sundays at 4 PM, February 2 through February 19.

Tickets are $25; $22 seniors; $20 members; $15 students. To purchase, please visit www.artsonthecape.org or call 508-428-0669.

”I think my writing background gives me an advantage when directing a revue because I am coming at it from the standpoint of a storyteller, which is what Jacques Brel was, rather than just ‘putting on a show.’ I'm going to let the audience read into as much or as little of this show as they want to. There are so many layers to it,” Donovan says.

It also doesn’t hurt that she is a huge Brel fan.

“I’ve always been drawn to Jacques Brel’s music,” Donovan says. “He held a microscope up to the most extreme circumstances in life.”

Brought into the production after she bombarded the CCFTA producing artistic director with tips to make the play a success, Donovan is taking the show down her own road.

One example is in a number called “Girls and Dogs,” in which two men sing their laments about women, comparing them to their pets.

“I hated it and thought it felt so dated and boring. So I decided to have the women sing it. They’re going to don some of the menswear and make fun of the men. The change really brought out a new depth,” Donovan says.

Flashback to 1967

Wait! Maybe you’re all wondering WHO ON EARTH IS JACQUES BREL? AND WHY DO I CARE? In a nutshell, the Belgian composer was a major figure of the British music scene in the 60s, notably influencing Bob Dylan, David Bowie, and Scott Walker; heck, even Nina Simone covers him. He wrote beautiful, interesting songs about love and death –many with political overtones.

The original play was a huge hit in New York in the late 60s, and Donovan’s goal with this production is for you to “feel like you’re coming to a nightclub, like you just walked into a 1967 Jacques Brel Concert.” 

To enhance this experience, the Cotuit Center’s theater has been arranged cabaret-style, complete with a thrust stage (seating on three sides), an actual bar in the theater, and candlelight.

The audience is also encouraged to dress up, if so desired, and—rumor has it—burlesque-costumed ushers will be on hand on opening night! Who said February was cold? I’m getting hot already!


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