CHANSONS: Songs & Stories from Piaf, Brel & Me
18/02/2022 - 12/03/2022
5 x Award winning: Stefanie Rummel performs Chansons: Songs & Stories from Piaf, Brel & Me online at the New Zealand Fringe from the 18th of February until the 12th of March 2022 with her virtual show
Chansons: Songs & Stories from Piaf, Brel & Me now can be seen on demand and live online at the New Zealand Fringe Festival 2022 in Wellington which takes place from the 18th of February until the 12nd of March. Are you ready for a journey to France? Join the online shows on demand which will be streamed the 13th of February 2022 at 7 pm, UK time.
Tickets can be bought HERE.
The show Chansons premiered in Germany in 2019. Despite Covid, Stefanie Rummel has performed online in cabarets in New York and San Francisco, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, CARTs, Lathi Fringe Festival and live at the Reykjavik Fringe Festival. Chansons was nominated for “Producer of the Year 2021” by “The TheaterMakers Studio” from the Tony Award winner Ken Davenport. The show stands for ‘touching’ stories about life and passionate songs from ‘Ne me quitte pas’ (Brel) to ‘Milord’ (Piaf). Sung and performed in the form of ‘brilliant show interludes’ by Stefanie Rummel (singing/acting) and accompanied by her pianists.
How about joining the French way of living for one evening without traveling and having jet lag? It doesn’t matter if you speak French or not. Everything is explained in English. Audience members described Chansons as a ‘heart connecting performance’. By looking at other cultures, you can reflect wonderfully on your own life and be inspired. How do we spend time? What is important to us in life?
The show won 1st place in the category Chansons at the German Rock and Pop Award 2022. In 4 other categories “Best Composition”, “Best Music Video”, “Best Female Musical Singer”, “Best Female Pop Singer” awards were given.
In the category “Best Composition” Stefanie Rummel won 2nd place with the chanson “Art”. She wrote this multimedia produced chanson in French and English for the Marsh Stream and Solo Art Heals in San Francisco. The chanson is about the effect, art has on us. Art is a source of inspiration, of meditation, of feeling, of reflection, of creating strength. This is more important than ever.
The music video “Frére Jacques” won 2nd place. This “chanson” has been translated into 120 languages. Regardless of cultures, this song connects people all over the world. Stefanie Rummel sings “Frére Jacques” in 16 different languages. The different cultures and voices are characterized by different puppets who are united by music. The artist talks about the effect of music beyond the borders of countries and languages.
“Where have all the flowers gone” won third place in the category “Best female folk singer”. In English, Icelandic, German, French, Stefanie Rummel interprets this haunting anti-war song by Pete Seeger. This song was sung by Marlene Dietrich and stories around it are told. Another chanson “My way” or “Comme d’habitude” won 3rd place in the category “Best Female Musical Singer”.
Chansons is characterized by French chansons interpreted in different languages, subtle autobiographical stories, and individual exchange with the audience and intercultural outlooks. For more information, visit: www.stefanierummel.com and www.chansons.show
Audience Reviews: “An award-winning German chanteuse performing French songs and narrating in English- Stefanie Rummel brings an evening of joie de vivre straight to your heart.” Bob Zaslow
“Stefanie Rummel is an outstanding performer with talent and personality. I have seen Chansons three times. During each experience, I have been mesmerized by Stefanie’s ability to tell stories, sing, and dance. She entices her audience to watch the show and we are hooked. I applaud Stefanie Rummel for creating Chansons – 5 stars!” Elaine Davida Sklar
18th of February until the 12th of March 2022
Webcast , Theatre , Musical ,
Fairly enjoyable, though not irresistible
Review by Dave Smith 28th Feb 2022
In the well-established Covid tradition we can get to see (on-stream) over an hour’s worth of mainly French songs and yarns delivered by Stefanie Rummel through C the Arts. Ms Rummel, in a less contagious time, might be seen onstage with this material but, as yet, is seems to be shoehorned into the limiting virtual realm. We live in challenging times.
The performer is German but like millions around the world is a firm Francophile. There is nothing devastatingly new about the repertoire. It pulls in the legendary 20th Century writers and performers Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel and Michel Sardou with their timeless tunes. All in front of a virtual audience of two (Trevor and Patrice) with whom the singer converses on various light-to-baffling topics throughout the entire session.
Stefanie bravely seeks to repackage her live show using no more than her voice and an offstage (and often distant-sounding) grand piano. Much of the singing is done in either the standing still or sitting positon behind a very solid-looking mic. At times it is apparent that the pianist and the singer are not totally in sync; one of the sad downsides of this cobbled together medium when the instrumentalist could have been in another country for all we know. Overall, though, it works okay (just). Stefanie is to be much thanked for giving it an enthusiastic whirl.
A Jacques Brel work gets to kick off in the shape of the frantic ‘Ne me quitte pas’ (‘Don’t leave me’); a moving and durable standard if ever there was one. It’s a very powerful song of pleading with by someone terrified of impending loneliness. Stefanie internalises it almost as if singing to herself. It becomes a tad sotto voce and the previously mentioned disjunction of voice and instrument somewhat undermine it.
Piaf’s ‘Milord’ (by Moustaki/Monnod) with some of the words up put onscreen gets the Rummel treatment whilst she is (apparently) singing in a plush home library (Reykjavik was mentioned). More upbeat than the opening number, ‘Milord’ is punched out, usually to a well lubricated audience in some raucous well lubricated surrounding. A library background doesn’t quite do it for me.
Then we move onto Stefanie delivering a tune I’ve never heard before. Its title is ‘Je Veux’ (‘I wish’) by Soltani/Tryss (from 2010) that was said to be redolent of “the little things in life that make you happy”. The piece called on huge depths of courage. Stefanie was sitting eyes half open or hooded intermittently blowing a kazoo in an interesting sort of jazzy way. The song certainly bounced along and she gets a minimum of A++ for effort.
Seeking to exploit the visual medium to the hilt, the next piece is an odd surprise. We get video slides of the truncated bridge at Avignon where, in the 13th and 14th centuries, no less than nine popes sport themselves. (Audience asked to guess the number – nobody does). And so we hear ‘Sur le Pont D’Avignon’ (or was it Sous le Pontiff?).
This leads to brief discussion about ‘Frere Jacques’. The line between informed banter and lecturing is becoming a wee bit thin at this point. Especially when an anecdote about a policeman holding up traffic to allow a snail through leads to the philosophical pearl that you “should take your time or time will take you”. Very true.
At this part of the show Stefanie very sensibly calls in the heavy battalions with ‘Les Feuilles Mortes’ (The Autumn Leaves) by Kosma /Prevert (1945) which I have long known to be the most important non-American standard. It is richly singer-proof. With a very pleasing piano accompaniment Stefanie makes some good vibes with this song; one that sinks menacingly into your soul (sinking ever-further the older you are). It exemplifies life and time and will never itself grow old. One or two notes go a tiny bit flat and the performance, in parts, has a ‘fits and starts’ feel to it. While not flawless the rendering is not unimpressive either.
From there we spiral back to Piaf with ‘L’accordeaniste’ (Michel Emer) from 1940. A pleasing little waltz-time number about the man who played the instrument for his whore then went off to war with the unifying squeezebox – never (of course) to return. The tone of the thing is both light and dark but to no obviously memorable purpose. Stefanie has already told you what the song will reveal. Then she sings it. Next number please. (Didn’t Mr Brel write a song called Next!?)
It could have been now for something completely different time but ‘Where have all the flowers gone?’ seems to be in the same sort of lugubrious groove. The wow factor here is that it is sung in German. It is essentially ‘owned’ by Piaf. But it has an amazing pedigree in that it is an Irish lumberjacking song, Cossacks claimed it as Koloda Duda and then the plastic US folksinger Peter Singer grabbed it in the 1960s to assault the Vietnam War; fighting off the Kingston Trio for the royalties. There is a connection with Edith Piaf that Stefanie mentions. When her death was announced the shops sold out of flowers. I’ll leave the rest to your fevered imagination.
A real dirty fingernails shift occurs, though, with Jacques Brel’s ‘In the Port of Amsterdam’. About the unglamorous sailor who will:
..drink to the health
Of the whores of Amsterdam
Who’ve given their bodies
To a thousand other men
Yeah, they’ve bargained their virtue
Their goodness all gone
For a few dirty coins.
Not the sort of stuff you put on a Dutch travel poster. The (Belgian) Mr Brel himself hated it! This ias a hard one for a woman to sing. Stefanie makes a pretty good “in yer face” fist of it. No less than 95 top singers of the 50s onwards including Ray Charles, David Bowie, Barbara Streisand, Marlene Dietrich and Sting have all acknowledged their profound debt to Brel. You can quite see why.
Then to finish off, Stefanie does a very noble thing. She warbles convincingly through ‘Comme d’habitude’ (Revaux/Francois) from the late sixties. This is a great choice to end on. The song is better known worldwide as ‘My Way’, the vaingloriously cloying anthem of Frank Sinatra with overblown lyrics by Paul Anka. The original song means “as usual”. Far from presenting a picture of a life of strife capped with major success, it tells of a deadly banal relationship. A man gets up, dresses, goes to work, comes home eats dinner and makes love – all “as usual”. Not nice at all.
An informative little show that has its highs and lows, too much singing that bangs its head against the singer’s natural register being the main culprit. I find it fairly enjoyable, though not irresistible.
French-related music has always had much to offer. To find a German lady proving the point to camera is great and I would give this offering a qualified but (mainly) good recommendation.
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