Nathalie Lermitte, Piaf’s musical heir is coming to Australia for Piaf! The Show

Nathalie Lermitte Piaf! The Show
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After captivating audiences in over 50 countries and selling a million tickets worldwide, the hit musical Piaf! The Show is making its Australian debut. The show stars Nathalie Lermitte, who is considered Piaf’s true musical heir. We chat with Nathalie. Read our interview with her below.

Nathalie Lermitte Piaf! The Show

Nathalie Lermitte, you’re coming to Australia next month to present Piaf! The Show, which you’ve been performing since 2018. It’s a show about the life and songs of Edith Piaf. Tell us a little about this show.

Actually, it’s a musical journey more exactly. I’ve been lucky enough to do four shows about Piaf, all very different. I started out with a huge musical, but this one is a musical voyage. You’re really immersed in the songs, in the energy of what the artist was able to offer and, above all, because these songs are obviously the stars of the show, they’re really the hits. And there are projections, you see Paris, you see photos that have never been seen before. We see photos of Piaf throughout her career. And in fact, I think the strength of this show is to draw out the emotion that the songs generated and that the songs generate in people.


You’ve been in several shows about Piaf and there are many, many more out there. How is Piaf! The Show different?

It’s different because it’s true that it is strictly musical, you could say. It’s really all of her songs performed chronologically, or at least the most famous ones. And there’s a different energy because even through the projection of photos, it’s the first time I have been in a Piaf show with a photo projection. But each time, I’ve been lucky enough to do these 4 shows about Edith Piaf telling the story of her life and who she was but four times very differently. It’s a great richness for me.


Friends of Edith Piaf have said that Piaf! The Show is the most beautiful homage ever produced about Edith’s career. Why? Is it the images that make it richer?

In fact, I don’t know. You would have needed to ask them that question. I know that it’s true that the show has been a huge success and people have been really touched by it. That, is all thanks to Edith, if I can say so. It’s thanks to her. I am convinced that it’s Edith Piaf”s songs and all the work she’s achieved throughout her career have captured something very deep in people. And in the end, we’re just the ones who awaken that emotion.


Why do you think Edith Piaf and her music are so emblematic of France?

I think she’s emblematic because I told a journalist not long ago that Piaf was a flag, but she already represents something very French. So, in fact, it’s a form of identification with France through her romanticism, through her drama, through this very Montmartrois or very Parisian side. So that’s important too. I think she symbolises something too.


I think Piaf symbolises something that is very strong today, especially today when we’re in a bit of trouble or a bit of despair, that anything is possible. She was pretty much born in the street, but she reached the top and in fact she is a strong symbol of the fact that even if you are born almost in the street, you can reach the top. So that’s a very modern and very, very contemporary symbol that we can hold on to.


And the last thing is, I think, that Piaf was a symbol of truth through her interpretation, through the being she was, and my belief is that truth does not die, that it is international, intergenerational and immortal.

It is also said that you are Piaf’s musical heir.

I do my best.


Do you know why people call you that? Is it because you’ve been doing all these shows about her for a long time?

That must be it too. I don’t know. In any case, for me, all I know is that I do my best. Despite all these years, I never get bored and, on the contrary, I find that every time I do it, I get the feeling that I’ve never reached the top. So I climb and climb and climb and climb.


And the last thing is that it’s really a tribute. And what really matters to me is that people continue to love her. And that’s something very important to me. So there you have it.


It’s been six years now – you must have had a period during COVID that you didn’t perform – but it’s been almost six years that Piaf! The Show has been performed.

Yes, it has. It’s true that in the last two years there’s been a real acceleration, we’ve all felt it, an acceleration and an even greater enthusiasm.


So you don’t get bored of doing the same show for years on end?

I never get bored. Never, really.


I imagine it must happen with some shows that you get bored after doing them for a long time, sometimes.

Of course it does. And at the same time, you know, it’s been almost 25 years since the beginning, the first show I did, and so singing La vie en rose, L’Hymne à l’amour. Well, I’ve done other roles at the same time because I do a lot of musicals. But I’m never bored, or at least it’s always an eternal restart, because first of all I’m different and I think the secret to singing Piaf is to be and not to do. ‘


So as I’m different every day, I evolve, I gain experience, age, joys and sorrows. All this is nourishment. I put all this nourishment at the service of who I am today and so I sing today, but not like yesterday and not like tomorrow.


Yes, of course. So you’re shaped a little by your life experiences.

Yes, that’s right. I have the feeling of being an instrument in fact, of being really the instrument of something that has to pass though.


And what are the challenges in performing Edith’s repertoire?

I think the challenge, or at least the pitfall that we mustn’t fall into, is imitation, because she’s inimitable, as Jean Cocteau used to say. There has never been an Edith Piaf, and there never will be again. There is only Piaf who sings like Piaf. Obviously, we can have things that are a bit common or even I, sometimes, go looking for something a bit – there are little surprises in the show, so there’s a given moment when I go looking for something a bit – common to me but I’m not an imitator. But as I often say, you have to have the song and not the plumage.

Piaf! The Show

Is there a particular Edith Piaf song that touches you the most?

Well, for me, it’s true that I have a soft-spot for Milord because I know the author of it well, who was [Georges] Moustaki and I liked him a lot. He often spoke to me a lot about about Edith Piaf. And also Milord is one of the most subtle songs in Piaf’s repertoire, because it’s a three-minute song that takes you through a whole range of emotions. And it’s really very rich, theatrically to sing.


And it also has this subtlety to it, because a lot of people think it’s a bit of a happy song, you know, you clap your hands, but it’s one of the saddest songs in Piaf’s repertoire. It hides her cards, in fact, Milord. It hides her cards and it has a lot of musical subtlety. It’s very complicated to sing musically and I love it for that, for its richness and I find it very accomplished. That’s it, I find this song absolutely accomplished.


And to talk a little about you, not just Piaf! The Show. You’ve had a long career in music. You started out with your father in a rock band at the age of six. And you released your own debut album on your 18th birthday.

Yes, absolutely, yes.


Did you always want to follow a musical career?

Yes, when I was little, I remember, I didn’t have any ambition to have a musical career. All I knew was that I had to sing to express myself, to help me express what I was feeling, that it was the only way for me to free myself of anything. But it was obvious. And the more I think about it now, the more I knew that it was almost like ‘a voice’ of a certain survival. So yes, in fact my ambition wasn’t to have a musical career, but to sing. It was essential for me.


Do you write your own songs?

No, I’ve never written my own songs.


But you express yourself through other people’s songs. So you find something that speaks to you?

In any case, when it speaks to me, it moves me. There’s a phrase I like that comes from the writer Stendhal who said “good music doesn’t deceive itself, it goes straight to the depths of the soul to find the grief that’s devouring you“. Well, when it touches me, it goes to seek out the grief that’s devouring me.


So which song touches you the most? Anything, not just Piaf.

So it’s true that I have a tenderness and I really like men’s songs, in fact. I like Brel’s repertoire and I like Bécaud’s stuff. In fact, I like songs that are a bit strong.


So your father was musical? Was your mother musical too?

No, not at all. And he was an amateur musician, so he wasn’t professional. He worked during the week and at weekends he had his band and that was that. And he gave me my foot in the door, so to speak.


Why do people have to come and see Piaf! The Show?

To borrow a phrase from Stendhal, to find the grief that’s eating them up.


Is there anything else you’d like to tell me?

Yes, to finish off with something a bit lighter. I’m convinced that Piaf’s songs belong to the people, to the public, and I realise that they belong to the world in fact.


And I encourage people a lot – and I don’t need to push people – I encourage people a lot to sing the songs with us, because, in fact, they’re very much in demand and when you push them a bit, you can’t stop them and that delights us to no end.

We thank Nathalie Lermitte for this interview and cannot wait to see Piaf! The Show next month.


WHAT: Piaf! The Show



MELBOURNE The Palms at Crown Thu May BUY TICKETS

MELBOURNE The Palms at Crown Fri 17 May BUY TICKETS

MELBOURNE The Palms at Crown Sat 18 May BUY TICKETS

SYDNEY State Theatre Thu 23 May BUY TICKETS

ADELAIDE Norwood Hall Sat 25 May BUY TICKETS



PERTH Crown Theatre Thu 6 June BUY TICKETS

HOW MUCH: The price of tickets varies depending on the seats chosen and the city


What’s your favourite Edith Piaf song? Will you go to see Piaf! The Show during its Australian tour?


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

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