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December 14, 2006 - Image 50

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-12-14

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On A Carousel

Jacques Brel revue summons the late, great
composer and performer to mixed effect.

Susan Zweig

Special to the Jewish News


he staging of Jacques
Brel Is Alive and Well
and Living in Paris,
at the Jewish Ensemble Theatre
through Jan. 6, recalls the com-
poser's musical genius.
Jacques Brel, Belgian by birth,
Flemish by descent, saw the
world through politi-
cal eyes. He walked
the tightrope of
human experience,
exploring life, death,
love and spiritual discovery. His
masterfully wrought lyrics flicker
like a series of snapshots — live-
ly, colorful, exceedingly specific.
It's no surprise he became such
a darling of the Vietnam era. As
the world became more incom-
prehensible, Brel's metaphorical

lyrics felt ever more decidedly
pure, a kind of emotional com-
pass in an increasingly soulless,
murky world. The music endures,
even offers a palpable whiff of
an era.
Translated into a stage revue
by Eric Blau and Mort Schuman
in 1968, the show is a highly
ambitious undertaking for any
theater company. No stranger to
difficult material, JET
should be commend-
ed for taking such
work on. There is no
book; the songs are
independent pieces of a Brelian
And yet, when the imagery
and magic of Brel's twists of lyric
and musical line are relied upon
to captivate without the meticu-
lousness necessary for staging
such a show, danger lurks.


Nate Bloom


Special to the Jewish News

Chanukah Bits


XM satellite radio will celebrate
Chanukah with a channel devoted
exclusively to Jewish music and
conversation. Radio Hanukkah will
broadcast on XM 108 from Dec.15-
23, with nightly
blessings (at
the right time
for Eastern and
Pacific time zone
listeners), includ-
ing the National
Menorah Candle
Lighting Dec.17
from Washington,
D.C. The lineup also will feature
sports specials, children's shows and
Chanukah music – traditional, mod-
ern and funny.
Participating are rock band
Barenaked Ladies (featuring
Jewish singer Steven Page),

Kinky Friedman, Matisyahu, Ruth
Westheimer, Al Franken, Neil
Sedaka and comedian Larry Miller.


December 14 2006

Of the 25 Brel piec-
es, the power of John
Delvierrell's "Next:'
performed angrily
in little more than a
towel, his in-your-face
ode from a casket
in "Funeral Tango,"
and the ensemble's
"Carouser with its
Clockwise from top left: John DeMerrill, Ellen Sandweiss, Rusty Mewha and
ups and downs on
Michelle Hooks-Stackpoole in JET's production of Jacques Brel Is Alive and
the wheel of life, are
Well and Living in Paris.
particularly effec-
tive and memorable.
The instrumental quartet is
backdrop. This canvas begging
Brel was political by nature,
also strong. Unfortunately, a
for representation is underused
but with allegory, analogy. Had
number of the pieces are per-
until the end of the first act,
the screens been used to imagi-
formed devoid of the passion
when it suddenly becomes a
native effect throughout, any
they deserve — perhaps because heavy-handed visual emissary
periodic forays into the political
the performers must navigate a
for Darfur, and in time, among
would feel less manipulative. The
Himalayan blocky set through-
other CNN-appropriate mon-
Abu Ghraib mention that closes
tages, 9-11, the terrorist bomb-
another composition feels simi-
With little else onstage, three
ings in Madrid and the military
larly ham-fisted.
huge screens serve as a constant
campaign in Iraq.
The Nat King Cole-Natalie

Also appearing are Sen. Carl Levin
of Michigan and Sen. Ben Cardin of
You can listen for free via the
Internet by going to XM Radio online.
The normal three-day free trial of
Radio Hanukkah (and all of XM radio
online) is extended for the entire
period (Dec.15-23) by entering the
promotional code
"The Chosen"
after signing-up
at xmro.xmradio.


It's a no-
strings attached
free trial – no
refundable pre-
Sen. Carl Levin
payment or
credit card is required to enjoy the
free trial.
If you are a Direct TV subscriber,
you can simply listen to Radio
Hanukkah on Direct TV on Channel
Also worthy of note: Comedian and
Flint native Sandra Bernhard does
a nice job singing a new Chanukah
song she penned, "Miracles of
Light." It appears on the multi-artist

holiday CD Breaking for the Holidays
(breakingrecords.com ).

Clooney Tribute

George Clooney, who isn't Jewish,
recently met with Israeli Vice
Premier Shimon Peres in New
York, and Peres invited the actor
to visit Israel as
his official guest.
Clooney, who once
visited Tel Aviv,
welcomed the
On Wednesday,
Dec.13, AMC
cable debuted a
Ellen Barkin
taped broadcast
of Clooney receiv-
ing the American Cinematheque
Award. The award dinner took place
last October and featured appear-
ances by many biggies, including
Julia Roberts, John Cusack, Noah
Wyle (his father is Jewish) and Ellen


At press time, it was not clear
whether the following made it into
the AMC broadcast, which will be
shown again noon Sunday, Dec. 17,

but Barkin made a stir at the award
dinner by "confessing" during her
tribute speech that she recently had
sex with Clooney. After the dinner,
Barkin told reporters that she had
been joking and was just playing off
a false rumor that she had a fling
with Clooney not long after her
now ex-husband, billionaire Ronald
Perelman, left her.
Barkin added that Perelman
courted her because she was a
famous and accomplished actress,
but after they wed he objected to
her taking any acting role, includ-
ing a small part in Ocean's Twelve,
which Clooney produced. Ironically,
her scenes in that 2004 movie were
cut. Clooney, though, made it up to
Barkin by giving her a big part in
the third entry in the Ocean's series,
Ocean's Thirteen, which opens in
Julia Roberts, meanwhile, stars as
the voice of Charlotte the spider in
a new film version of the children's
classic Charlotte's Web, which opens
Friday, Dec.15. Charlotte was helmed
by Jewish director Gary Winick (13

Going on 30).

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