Canada’s First Lady of Musical Theatre
Louise Pitre performs in Necessary Angel’s production of What Makes A Man, a celebration of the work of Charles Aznavour.
October 5th to November 2nd at the Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley Street, Toronto.
Tickets $30 – $49 To book tickets please Click Here
Necessary Angel’s Carys Lewis discusses the work of Charles Aznavour with Louise…
Louise Pitre, Canada’s first lady of musical theatre, needs little introduction. Her illustrious career spans over thirty years on stages across North America and Europe. I was lucky enough to chat with Ms. Pitre about her experience working on Necessary Angel’s upcoming production of What Makes A Man…
What did you know of Charles Aznavour before starting this project?
I grew up in Montreal, I’m French Canadian, so I’ve known Charles Aznavour all my life. I’ve seen him in concert many times and I’ve listened to him since I was a kid.
What do you most enjoy about working on his music?
I think he is one of the most brilliant songwriters ever. His lyrics are unlike anyone’s. The only other person I would put on the same kind of podium is Jacques Brel. Their songs are similar to me in that their lyrics are every bit as strong as the music. His music is terrific, Aznavour’s, and maybe a little poppier sometimes. But, oh his lyrics! Every song is a character study and a story, you feel like you know that person at the end of the song. That’s what I love about Aznavour.
What are the challenges of adapting and interpreting Aznavour’s complex lyrics?
I’ll be honest; it’s very difficult to sing these songs in English. Some of the (English) translations are better than others. I find so often knowing what the French words are is difficult. At the same time you are singing for an English audience, you want them to know what it is you’re talking about. It’s important. I’m very familiar with some of the songs I’m singing. Now, it’s not Charles Aznavour singing these songs. I’m going to impose certain things on the song because I’m giving it from my characters point of view. It makes a big difference on how you are going to sing the song. It affects the meaning and your relationship to it. It’s like taking a song you know, and always thought you knew, and tweaking it slightly.
What can you tell me about the character you are developing in the show?
Jennifer (Tarver) is calling my character ‘The Survivor’. I’m the one who has gone through all the shit! The one who has had the dream, but who sees the dream chipped away and has never been able to let it go. (In the song) Take Me Along, I just want to get the hell out of this place I am in, but I give up at the end of the song. And in A Young Girl, it’s about back when I was full of hope and love, but had that chipped away too. I tired to get out, but love consumed me. Once again I don’t get to escape. I’m the more embittered and realistic…the other two characters in the piece are younger and more hopeful. But we’re all a part of what ‘the man’ has become.
Do you have any favorite songs from Aznavour’s body of work?
I love Two Guitars. I wasn’t that familiar with the song coming into rehearsal. But before coming to rehearsal, I must admit that my favorite song was I Drink. I mistakenly thought I was signings that song and I was so excited about it! ‘Cause that’s one of those seriously bitter songs…it’s fantastic. It’s killer.
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