We Talk with Gil Marsalla about PIAF! THE SHOW
Gil Marsalla has been studying music since the age of 14 and had a rewarding career as a musician, music director, conductor and artistic director. He has been successfully producing musical and theatrical shows and large-scale events for the past 20 years, most recently with his own production company Directo Productions, and since 2007 has been touring his productions worldwide. Among his recent producing credits are Paris! Le Spectacle (2014) and Aznavour! The Show (2016) and his latest PIAF! THE SHOW a tribute to Edith Piaf and musical celebration of her life.
In two 45-minute acts, PIAF! THE SHOW narrated the rags-to-riches story of the Parisian singer’s career through her unforgettable songs such as “La Vie en Rose” and “Hymne à l’amour,” complemented by a visual tapestry of previously unreleased photographs and images of famous locations of the Edith Piaf era. PIAF! THE SHOW rolled into Carnegie Hall on 1/6/2017 and continues for 400 shows in the U.S. and Europe through 2019.
I had the chance to get the skinny about the show and its historical performance in Manhattan by speaking to Nice-based theatrical maverick Gil Marsalla.
Could one assume that the hardest part of mounting a show like this, was in finding someone to play Edith Piaf?
Yes, you are right. I had been looking for a wonderful singer with the right charisma since 2009. I finally found her in Anne Carrere, who is amazing. I have worked in show business, both on and off stage for 25 years, and mounted shows throughout the entire world, but to this day, Anne Carrere is my greatest discovery yet. She’s a diamond in the rough. One doesn’t dare touch or polish her – such is the nature of her pure, natural talent. She is perfect for the role in Piaf! The Show. Anne uses her voice and charisma to interpret Edith Piaf. I was not looking for a singer to imitate her, because it would be a mistake to copy her.
In this day and age, where audiences are sitting home more than ever, grabbing their entertainment from their tablets etc., how does one get people out to the theatre?
What a good question! People who go to the theatre and to live shows go to share emotions. Music is a universal language that keeps us open to the world and helps us get through tough times. Perhaps having the experience of a live show at Carnegie Hall, one of the most important cultural venues in the world, could help too!
Following, do you believe there will always be a need for the live experience?
Absolutely! And Broadway is the most important example! All the world comes to see the wonderful performances and productions in New York. Also, in our industry today the live television broadcast of shows like The Voice and American Idol helps that experience. You watch one of those shows on TV and you’ll buy tickets to see the winner perform. After, the audience may decide to see other artists perform live. I’m totally confident about the future of live experience.
How does coming to Carnegie Hall differ from playing other theaters?
Carnegie Hall is considered one of the most prestigious venues in the world. With its quality acoustics, stature, and professional staff, Carnegie Hall guarantees that we will perform our show in front of the best audience. Only a few French artists have performed there – Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel and now my friend Gad Elmaleh, will perform there just after us on February 17th. Piaf! The Show at Carnegie Hall will be the most important moment of my career as a producer. Also, I feel like an invisible force called to me to bring back the music and spirit of Edith Piaf, who performed twice at Carnegie Hall, once in 1956 and again in 1957, which was the most important performance of her career. For me, a little French producer, January 6th was a dream come true!
Have you found a difference in how audiences react to this show from city to city, country to country? In your vast experience of mounting shows all over, do you find a difference in audiences generally, is this something you can describe?
We have produced over 300 concerts in 33 Countries in just two years! So far the best audience was in South America. They are completely crazy for Piaf music. The quietest audiences are in Japan. But, in each country, Edith Piaf is a star and audiences are very expressive. Anne represents her so well that she gets standing ovations many times each evening. Audiences are very participatory. They cry, shout, and laugh with Anne. Piaf! The Show is the best example that music is universal.
Watch a trailer of the show here: https://youtu.be/obpUmr1s8kQ
You can go to the website for the Carnegie Hall date here: PIAF! THE SHOW Website: http://piaf-theshow.com/carnegiehall/