At one point during the second act of Jil Aigrot’s performance last evening at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club, the floor to ceiling curtains in the Crystal Terrace were parted to reveal the night time splendor of Monument Circle. After peering out the room’s massive wall of windows, overlooking the Indy’s treasured landmark, Aigrot turned to the audience and remarked that the scene looked “a little like Paris.”
It was quite a compliment coming from this celebrated French chanteuse, who many feel is the very embodiment one of the world’s most romantic cities and its culture. The fact that her show, entitled Jil Aigrot: Paris Canaille, was comprised of songs from well known French artists, as well as those made famous by France’s greatest, popular singer Edith Piaf (Aigrot is the voice behind the role of Academy /Golden Globe winning film, La Vie en Rose) made the entire setting all the more appropriate.
Singing with intense emotion, there wasn’t a single song that the Cannes, France, native performed that didn’t resonate with an audience captivated by her passionate interpretations. Speaking in halting English and an accent that was sometimes difficult to understand whenever she introduced each song, nevertheless Aigrot charmed the audience with her willingness to communicate despite the language barrier.
Highlights of the first act were “A Paris,” by Yves Montand ; “For Me Formidable,” by Charles Aznavour; “Ne me quitte pas,” and “La Valse à Mille Temps,” by Jacques Brel; “Les moulins mon Coeur” by Michael Legrand ; and “J’ai Deux Amours” by American ex patriot Josephine Baker.
Adding musical luster to her presentation were Gino Samyn, her gifted pianist and equally superbly accordion/percussion player, Cyrille Cabet.
The second act of Aigrot’s show consisted entirely of ballads associated with Piaf and those which are most recognizable. Wearing a little black dress, (such as those favored by Piaf) the diminutive singer (who many consider to be the very reincarnation of “The Little Sparrow”), performed “Padam,” “La Foule,” and others. Singing “Le Vie en Rose,” Piaf’s iconic signature song, Aigrot transported the Cabaret crowd to a Paris bistro as she strolled through the audience, encouraging all present, to sing along.
Ending the show with another Piaf classic, “Hymne à l’amour,” Aigrot was rewarded with an instantaneous standing ovation prior to her exit from the stage. Upon her return she once engaged the audience, encouraging them to sing along to “Milord,” another song which will forever be identified with Piaf.
Aigrot is no doubt capitalizing on her association with the Piaf film in order to gain exposure (Indianapolis is part of her current U.S. tour). However, based on her overall performance at the Cabaret (especially during the first part of the show) it’s clear that she in possession of her own distinctive style, and versatility—making her much more than just simply a Piaf impersonator.
For information about the remainder of The Cabaret at the Columbia Club’s 2011 season, call 317.275.1169 or go online to www.TheCabaret.org.