I caught the Bastille Day celebration featuring a 4-course dinner and a concert by Sally Martin at Terasol last night.
The theme of the evening put La Martin in the middle of much of her best repertoire. When an early mention of the movie Midnight in Paris elicited a long, collective sigh from the audience, it was clear that she was also squarely in the midst of the most receptive house for this repertoire.
Now I think a situation like this can be tricky when you have an audience with such clear expectations. It would be easy to over-program chestnut after chestnut; on the other hand, it would also be easy to go too esoteric. I’m happy to report that Sally did a terrific job of balancing the many expected touchpoints of a program like this – Piaf, Josephine Baker, Brel, etc. with some lesser-known material and deft touches of her own.
The first great moment came at the beginning when she asked the audience to stand for the French national anthem and delivered a rousing version of La Marseillaise. Piaf’s Hyme a l’Amour was given a nifty Bach/jazz treatment. And an Eric Satie cabaret waltz harkened back to the days of the Post-Impressionists gathering at Le Chat Noir. As one expects of her, the program was meticulously sung, with the great support of James Fitzpatrick at the keyboard.
I was particularly impressed by Sally’s scripting. She did a great job of conveying enough information about the songs and switching to English to keep the non-French speakers on board. And she had a great sense of when it was fine to just shut up and sing the next song.
The team deserves extra credit for the rousing ovation that they got at the end since everything the venue did seemed designed to make the audience as grumpy as possible. Tables were crammed in with no thought as to wait staff traffic or sight-lines: Sally’s “front row” were four backs and a good third of the seats required epic contortions to see the singer. There was constant extraneous, distracting noise and movement from the staff during her set, including two servers chatting loudly behind her. And while the food was lovely (on a mostly room temperature menu limited to two choices per course), I felt like I was in one of those Top Chef Restaurant Wars episodes where everything was going wrong. When 45 minutes passed after our order was taken and we didn’t see food coming out from the kitchen for anyone, we were wondering if part of Terasol’s Bastille Day celebration was to incite its audience to storm the ramparts demanding bread.
I debated about whether to publicly air these criticisms because we all know that there are not nearly enough venues out there, and I think new venues should be given a chance and a break. That said, there are also not nearly enough audience members willing to leave the comfort of their homes and shell out money – especially after they’ve had an overall experience like the one the venue provided last night. So I sincerely hope that the good people at Terasol actually noticed that there were problems, take them to heart and assure that in the future they will be things of the past.
- La Marseillaise – Claude Rouget de Lisle
- Chanson – Stephen Schwartz
- Ça – Lyrics–Charles Aznavour, Music Gilbert Bécaud
- Dites-Moi/Parlez moi d’amour – Rodgers & Hammerstein/ Jean Lenoir
- Youkali – lyrics, Roger Fernay — Music, Kurt Weill
- I Love Paris/Sous le ciel de Paris – Cole Porter/ lyr. Jean Drejac, Music, Hubert Giraud
- J’ai deux amours — Lyr. Géo Koger, Henri Varna – Music, Vincent Scotto
- The Last Time I Saw Paris Lyr. Oscar Hammerstein, Mus. Jerome Kern
- Pigalle – Ly. Géo Koger, Georges Ulmer, Guy Luypaerts – Mus. Georges Ulmer, Guy Luypaerts
- J’attendrai – Lyrics, Louis Potérat Mus. Dino Olivieri
- Je Te Veux – Lyr. Henry Pacory Mus. Erik Satie
- For Me, Formidable Lyr. Jacques Plant, Mus. Charles Aznavour
- Hymne à l’amour – Marguerite Monnot
- L’accordeoniste – Michel Emer
- If We Only Have Love – Eng. lyr. Mort Shuman and Eric Blau, Mu. Jacques Brel
- Chanson des Vieux Amants – Brel
- Le Prochain Amour – Brel
- C’est l’amour/ Je ne regrette rien Lyr. Edith Piaf, Mus. Marguerite Monnot/ Lyr. Michel Vaucaire mus. Charles Dumont
- La vie en rose Lyr. Edith Piaf, Mus. Louiguy
- encore– Carousels — Eng. lyr. Mort Shuman and Eric Blau mus..Jacques Brel