When We Have Only Love gives Jacques Brel his day


There comes a time in a revue of Belgian songwriter Jacques Brel's work that the artists have to face the elephant in the room: Terry Jacks's "Seasons in the Sun."

It came about two-thirds of the way through When We Have Only Love, the delightful show running at Open Eye Figure Theatre through this week.

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Thankfully, it only consisted of a single verse and chorus before Dan Chouinard shifted into French for the original, where the sickly sentimentality of Rod McKuen's lyrics are replaced with a mixture of the cynical, funny, and sad (though still about someone on their death bed).

Chouinard — along with singers Bradley Greenwald, Diana Grasselli, and Prudence Johnson, plus musicians Michelle Kinney and Tim Sparks — bring dozens of Brel's mid-century tunes to life. Many sport the same kind of vibe as "Le Moribond," as they tackled topics like middle-class boredom, lost youth, and Brel's own troubles with love and life.

The show also gives us a rundown of Brel, from his beginnings in a middle-class Belgian family before World War II through his decision to bring his "country bumpkin" act to Paris in the early 1950s, to his rise as a songwriter and performer.

Still, it's mainly about the music, and the talented company performs dozens of Brel's tunes, both in translation (several done by Greenwald; others in more familiar translations) and the original language. You'll leave humming a tune for sure, and it likely won't just be "Seasons in the Sun."


Jacques Brel: When We Have Only Love
Through Sunday
Open Eye Figure Theatre
506 E. 24th St., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612-874-6338 or visit onlilne.