Piaf! The Show is simply Piaf-ection

Piaf! The Show REVIEW
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Piaf! The Show transported us to Piaf’s Paris, not just through Nathalie Lermitte’s wonderful interpretation of her songs but through the use of black and white archival photos and video projected at the back of the stage.

Piaf! The Show REVIEW

Nathalie’s performance of the songs showcases their beauty and their power. Her joy at performing Piaf’s music is infectious. Nathalie is a star performer, not just anyone can perform Piaf’s songs like her. Her decades of experience shine. Lermitte wowed the audience several times throughout the show, as her voice soared to new heights, and she held them for an impressively long time. 


At first, audiences at Piaf! The Show may think Nathalie Lermitte doesn’t sound like Piaf and that is true. You have to remind yourself that she is not trying to be Piaf. As she said in her interview with us, the pitfall many fall into is imitating Piaf when in fact Piaf is inimitable. That said, at one point in the performance, it is quite striking how a wig and a change in lighting and dress see Lermitte transformed into a vision of Piaf as we know her.


As you’d expect the songs are performed in French, with the exception of a verse of Autumn Leaves. That means that non-Francophone Francophiles may miss out on some of the full meaning of the songs such as in Paris, Lermitte is singing that she is bored of Paris when in the line “Paris, je m’ennuie de toi, mon vieux”. However, knowing French is not at all necessary to appreciate the beauty of the songs and the strength of the performance.


I really liked the authenticity Nathalie Lermitte brought to the show. For the second song Plus bleu que tes yeux, images of the terrasse of Café de Flore are projected and the band members come out on stage wearing the typical Parisian waiter’s vests over white shirts. The café scene continues for Les Amants d’un jour which sees Lermitte don a waitress’ apron as she sings “Je suis les verres au fond du café” (I wipe glasses at the back of the café). 

In the second act, Lermitte starts to explain some of the songs more, such as with Milord, when she speaks to the audience acting out the song as she beckons him to come sit at her table and tells him not to be sad. 


The playlist moves between slow numbers and more upbeat, even jazzy, songs keeping the audience on its toes. Not all of the songs in the program would be familiar to Australian audiences and Piaf! The Show represents a good chance to discover some that may not appear on your greatest hits album such as Entre Saint-Ouen et Clignancourt. In contrast though, all of the songs the audience would have wanted to hear made their appearance in the show. 


Lermitte speaks very little in the show. Piaf! The Show is about the music and life of Piaf. The latter is shown through the songs and their choreography, costuming and the projections. We see Piaf working in cafés, being scouted on the Rue Pigalle, through to her great love and loss in Mon Dieu for which images of her love the boxer Marcel Cerdan, who died in a plane crash on his way to visit her in New York, are projected. 


The stage is set up to transport us to locations relevant to the show. On one corner is a Parisian park bench lit by a street light. It is here that Nathalie opens Piaf! The Show sitting by her accordionist.  On the other side, we are taken to the terrasses of Paris with a round table and chairs and a bottle of wine.

Image supplied

Lermitte is joined by a stellar band composed of Philippe Villa on piano,  Nicolas Castagnola on percussion, Frederic Viale on accordion and Pierre Marcus on double bass. Each gets their chance to showcase their talents but we were particularly mesmerised by Viale’s accordion solo when he played with such speed and such adept note changes we almost didn’t recognise it. 


The word transportative gets thrown around a lot but Piaf ! The Show is definitely just that, transporting audiences back to Piaf’s Paris. Nathalie Lermitte is a champion of Piaf’s repertoire and brings a strong flourish to it. If you get a chance to see Piaf! The Show somewhere in the world, we highly recommend you do.


Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of The Prestige Presents 


There’s one Australian show left in this tour: at the Crown Theatre in Perth, this Thursday 6 June. Buy your tickets via this link


For events with links to France and the Francophonie that are happening this month, check out our What’s on in June

You may also like to read our interview with Nathalie Lermitte.

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