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Brel: The Words and Music of Jacques Brel

Presented by Silo Theatre at Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber
Auckland, New Zealand, 1-24 November 2012

Directed by Michael Hurst

In 2013, Brel went on tour:

Taranaki International Arts Festival - 27-29 August
Christchurch Arts Festival - 31 August-1 September
Nelson Arts Festival - 19-20 October
Tauranga Arts Festival - 26-27 October

In 2014, Brel was performed at New Zealand Festival (26 February-2 March) and at the Great Hall of Auckland Town Hall (4 March).

Julia Deans  
  Michael Hurst
Jon Toogood  
Musical Direction
  Leon Radojkovic
Tama Waipara  
Production Design
  Jane Hakaraia
Jennifer Ward-Lealand  
  Sean Lynch
Costume Design
  Charlotte Rust
Leon Radojkovic
Sound Engineering
  Rato Gordon for Oceania
Abraham Kunin  
  Marianne Schultz
Jonathan Burgess  
  Leon Radojkovic
Simon Walker  
Vacal Arrangements
  Robin Kelly


Jennifer and Julia talk Brel in this interview from February 2014.  

La Diable (Ca Va) - all four   Carousel - Julia; backed by Jennifer, Jon, Tama
Jackie - Tama; backed by Jennifer, Julia, Jon
  Fanette - Tama
My Childhood - Jennifer   Funeral Tango - Jennifer
Alone - Jon & Julia
  The Desperate Ones - all four
Timid Frieda - Julia; backed by Jennifer, Tama
  Next - Jon
My Death - Jon
  I Loved - Julia
No, Love, You Are Not Alone - Jennifer & Julia   Mathilde - Jon; backed by Jennifer, Julia, Tama
Girls and Dogs -Jon & Tama   Ces Gens-La - Tama
Marieke -Jennifer   Sons of... - Julia; backed by Jennifer, Jon, Tama
See a Friend in Tears - Tama; 2013 & 2014 only   Ne Me Quitte Pas - Jennifer
Song for Old Lovers -Julia   Le Moribond - Jon & Tama; backed by Jennifer, Julia
Amsterdam -Jon   If We Only Have Love - all four

Photos (by Andrew Malmo) from 'One Night Stand' at the Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall, 4 March 2014.


Year-End Kudos

Metro (December 2012) Best of Auckland 2012:  "5 BEST CULTURAL EXPERIENCES   1. BREL  If Silo's November show was a person, we would not have been able to keep our hands off them.  The exquisite musicianship of Tama Waipara and Jennifer Ward-Lealand, the seething, brooding energy of Julia Deans and Jon Toogood, the witty, subtly beautiful arrangements of Leon Radojkovic, and the whole show--22 songs by Belgian chanteur Jacques Brel and no fluff between--crafted into the sexiest, most gloriously romantic incitement to life and to love by director Michael Hurst.  Few shows ever are as good as this".

Theatre Scenes:  "it was sublime . . . Michael Hurst and the team curated their own selection of Brel songs to make a beautifully paced theatre-concert, that climaxes in all the right places.  . . . It was a show that held you up by your chest, ripped your heart out, gently kissed it, before placing it back inside and sewing you up".

Brel Reviews


New Zealand Festival

Dominion Post: "Jennifer Ward Lealand bringing a raw emotional energy to all her songs ... the way Hurst and his team have put them together provides a great evening's musical entertainment"

The Big Idea:  "Brel was a heartfelt work of integrated stories, sound and light, sensuality and setting.  It did burst and glide, cackle, glower and play, and it simmered with energy that thrillingly waxed before it softly waned".

Theatreview:  "The ever luminous Jennifer Ward-Lealand stands out - her renditions of Marieke and Ne me quitte pas are passionate and beautiful, exquisite even ... The level of the performers is simply outstanding ... you won't want to miss it".

Stuff:  "Jennifer Ward-Lealand bringing a raw emotional energy to all her songs ... Hurst and his team have put together a great evening's musical entertainment"



Nelson Arts Festival

Nelson Mail: "Over 20 wonderful songs enthralled a full house at the Theatre Royal and got them whooping, cheering, stamping and whistling ... The introductory notes to Ne Me Quitte Pas brought anticipatory applause, and Ward-Lealand, singing in French, hit just the right notes.  The house was still as she sang.  She is quite the stage goddess, and her interpretation was tender and lovely".

Theatreview: "The audience is seductively drawn in to the tale at the heart of every song, each its own mini epic: sometimes cruel, sometimes funny, always captivating ... This is a not to be missed show as the performances from singers and musicians alike are faultless in their execution. It is a delight and a privilege to hear these songs so enigmatically enacted and so full of life".

Taranaki International Arts Festival

Theatreview:  "a sumptuous evening; delights for the ears and eyes and balm for the soul ... What's so good about this Silo production is that all aspects work so well together. The singers are strong and edgy"


Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall

NBR:  "The four . . . are all exceptional singers and actors, bringing Brel's despairing songs to life and giving them a contemporary feel and relevance . . . with this Brel being directed by Michael Hurst [Silo] has an extraordinary work which is raw, funny, passionate and entertaining".

Theatreview:  "Raw, truthful and elegant, Ward-Lealand brings emotional truth to songs like My Childhood, Marieke and Ne Me Quitte Pas, a particularly twisted little number given its full glory here.  . . . The work is brought gorgeously to life by Hurst and an eclectic mix of performers . . . Bold, loud, emotionally raw.  My kind of musical".

Stuff.co.nz:  " . . . the four musicians weaved their way around the songs and each other, their voices and stage presence working wonderfully together  . . . Ward-Lealand proved just how versatile she is--from the beautiful My Childhood to the viciously sad Funeral Tango.  . . . it is a show with performances that make you feel".

VanguardRed Magazine:  "Jennifer Ward-Lealand's acting talent was highly effective at conveying deep-rooted emotion--her rendition of Ne Me Quitte Pas brought the show to a standstill.  . . . The emotional energy of the show is elegantly conducted . . . I highly recommend it".

Lumiere Reader:  "Jennifer Ward-Lealand was the highlight of the show.  . . . From the very first number, she stands out amongst the ensemble, and moves around the stage in a way that is . . . impossible to look away from.  . . . a great musical with big moments and performances.  . . . You'll regret it if you don't see it".

Concrete Playground:  "Director Michael Hurst and singers Jon Toogood, Julia Deans, Tama Waipara and Jennifer Ward-Lealand . . . have done an excellent job of translating the passion, violence, irony and despair of [Brel's] music on stage.  . . . these consummate performers bring the songs to life.  . . . the show was electric".

Keeping Up with NZ:  " . . . phenomenal live band . . . emotion, humour and expression . . . intensity and intimacy . . . superb vocal performances . . . Go and see Brel . . . A smoky cabaret with a mean swagger!"

The 13th Floor:  " . . . playful, sexy and moving exploration of Brel's work.  . . . Ward-Lealand comes into her own with a hysterical rendition of Funeral Tango where she delivers lines . . . with delicious glee.  She also performs an outstanding version of Ne Me Quitte Pas.  . . . Brel is an unusual and thrilling show that thoroughly deserved its standing ovation".

Whimsical Banana:  "Brel, put simply, is absolutely breathtakingly phenomenal.  . . . Brel is a cabaret and theatrical masterpiece and an absolute triumph.  Michael Hurst's direction has succeeded in creating a mesmerizing and unforgettable musical tribute to one of the greatest artists in the twentieth century".

NZ Herald: "Silo Theatre has created an engaging showcase . . . the emotion is palpable, the phrase repetition hypnotic, the lighting dynamic . . . Julia Deans is  a revelation . . . Tama Waipara gives his quieter songs dignity . . . Jennifer Ward-Lealand [is] suitably desperate in Marieke and darkly humorous in Funeral Tango . . . Jon Toogood makes a good fist of the darker, energetic pieces . . . "