The songs of Piaf

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The great Edith Piaf is recalled in a show heading to Chichester, nearly 50 years after her death.

Piaf - The Songs is at the Minerva Theatre on Saturday, January 21 for matinee and evening performances, featuring Eve Loiseau singing the songs of Piaf with Fiona Barrow, violin and Edward Jay, accordion.

Piaf has become synonymous with the French cabaret of the 1940s and 50s and remains France’s most popular singer.

Piaf’s life was the stuff of legend, from her dramatic rise from Paris street urchin to star of international renown. Her life, however, was anything but la vie en rose. Towards the end of her life, ravaged by pain and injury, Piaf turned to drugs to find comfort and solace, never able to believe that she was indeed loved by countless thousands of fans the world over.

All this Eve tries to convey through the words, that celebrated voice and those songs, including La Vie En Rose, Sous Le Ciel De Paris, Milord, Autumn Leaves, Padam Padam, C’est Merveilleux, L’Accordéoniste and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.

“I come from a French and Scottish family,” Eve says. “I would spend holiday time in France and you can imagine the scene, hot summer afternoons, lots of wine, and my family would start to sing. They lived in the Loire Valley and we were always singing French songs.

“I loved the Piaf songs right from that time. I suppose they really started to emerge in my own repertoire when I was getting asked to do after-dinner turns for friends over the years. My first song was La Vie En Rose. I kept doing this little turn and people kept saying that I really should do something with it.

“So I thought I would really research her and look at all the footage and really try to say something about the person that was behind it all. I put this show together quite some time ago in principle, but what really interests me is the songs, the poetry of those songs. She had fantastic writers, and there is just something about those songs. You can’t help but be inspired by them when you hear them, and when you start to sing them, you can’t help but think about her personality and all the problems she had. I put on a little black dress and I have a wig to create a bit of nostalgia, to highlight that Piaf look, and it just takes over!”