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No Regrets – the Edith Piaf Story: Performance Review

A piano, an accordion.

A singer, a really fantastic top hat and tailcoat.

A glass of Tempranillo, a drunk guy singing along at the bar wearing, I kid you not, a monocle.

St Kilda’s Memo Music Hall, the half-eaten bag of tiny teddies I snuck out of my handbag because I didn’t have a chance to go home for dinner.

And the infamous songs of Edith Piaf.

I took a friend along to see Melbourne singer and cabaret entertainer, Nikki Nouveau, tell the story and sing the world-famous songs of Edith Piaf. The Memo Music Hall in St Kilda is hidden behind the RSL and offers a range of live entertainment. They had filled the room with small tables, which by the time we walked in were already littered with half-empty glasses of wine and those tiny packets of chips that they always have at bars.

The performance began with the pianist, John Thorn, and accordionist, George Butrumlis, quietly playing accompaniments to Piaf’s most famous works, while those finishing buying drinks at the bar went to find their seats, the chatter turned to a whisper, then silence, and Nikki Nouveau presented herself on stage dressed in a black leather dress and black elbow length gloves that paid homage to Piaf and Paris of the early 20th century.

Nouveau used Piaf’s songs to create a timeline of love, tragedy, and pain. Telling Piaf’s journey, from growing up in a brothel after being abandoned by her mother, to singing on the streets where she was discovered by Louis Leplee, a nightclub owner who was later murdered. She told the story of how the love of Piaf’s life, boxer Marcel Cerdan, died in a plane crash on his way to see her, which she followed with the haunting L’Hymne a’ L’Amour which Piaf recorded in his honour. Nouveau spoke of the many loves and many losses that encroached Piaf, and how this influenced Piaf’s life and music, up until her untimely death at age 47.

Nouveau’s performance was fantastic, she was a truly excellent singer and performer. The well-known songs of Piaf, such as Padam, La Vie en Rose, and Non Je Ne Regrette Rien, were interspersed with emotional accounts of Piaf’s tragic, yet extraordinary life.

No Regrets – The Edith Piaf Story played at the Memo Music Hall in St Kilda on 1 May and will tour Australia in September and October of this year.

Anna McShane-Potts

The author Anna McShane-Potts

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