Friday, 4 March 2011

Vérité Theatre Productions - 'The Accordionist'

Glamorous tribute act
Bethany Jameson as Jacqueline Lacroix (as Edith Piaf)
Romano Viazzani as 'The Accordionist'
Listeners to Tuesday's 'Classical Journey' will remember the special treat we enjoyed at the end of the show.  Romano Viazzani brought his very impressive and beautiful Beltrami accordion into the studio to accompany Bethany Jameson in two Edith Piaf songs - and two written by Bethany - arranged for accordion and voice by Romano.
In keeping with Tuesday's theme of 'tango' they started with Bethany's 'Tango for One'.  Then we enjoyed  'La Foule' (written by Michel Rivegauche and Angel Cabral for Edith Piaf).  'I've bought a brand new dress' was another of Bethany's more modern compositions and 'Milord' (written by Georges Moustaki and Margueritte Monnot for Edith Piaf) finished off the show in style.
Starting on Tuesday night we were able to enjoy all of those songs - and a dozen more - sung live in the basement of the 'Bikeshed' in Fore Street Exeter.
The songs are linked by the rather tragic story of a fictional Edith Piaf tribute singer, Jacqueline Lacroix, who escapes her husband (and accordion accompanist) Jonathan and rebuilds her act with a mysterious character we know only as 'The Accordonist' (played by Romano Viazzani).  The underlying story of Jacqueline Lacroix' lovelife and battle with alcohol addiction reflects the sad story of Edith Piaf herself.
The venue - the crude brickwork auditorium of the Bikeshed basement - and the performance by Bethany and Romano, combined with very skilled lighting, created a very convincing environment for these wonderful nostalgic songs.  Romano fooled us all, starting on Tuesday morning, by staying in the background and saying very little.  On stage he remains mute, responding to Bethany's lines with just a raised eyebrow or shake of the head.  Just when it seems he is going to be accompanist only, he bursts into life and surprises us all with beautifully delivered lines of his own.  You have to see the play to find out how and when this happens.
The accordion playing is deliciously moving throughout, from the set pieces to Romano's improvisations, which double as 'dialogue' when Romano is in mute mode.  The opening number is played on the 1955 'Fisarmoniche Maga Ercole' accordion of Romano's father, while all the other pieces are played on the much bigger and very impressive 'Beltrami'.
Bethany's singing is sensuously erotic with gorgeous French diction and a subtle overlay of romantic tragedy.  Close your eyes and the sultry voice performing the original French numbers could really be Edith herself - filtered through the fictional character of Jacqueline Lacroix.  The final numbers, with Bethany sheathed in gold lamé flirtatiously accosting audience members, completes the 'French cabaret' feel of the show.
There are two more opprortunies to see this outstanding show in Exeter before it moves to the New End Theatre in Hamstead (for a run which has been extended to three weeks since their people saw the show at the Lighthouse in Poole).  For a ticket price significantly lower than theatre-goers will be paying in London, the show is on tonight and tomorrow night (Fri & Sat, 4 & 5 March) at 7.30pm.  An opportunity not to be missed.

Vérité Productions (Soprano Bethany Jameson, Accordionist Romano Viazzani)
Bikeshed Theatre Fore Street Exeter Tues-Sat 1-5 March 7.30pm
The Accordionist
Story of Edith Piaf Tribute Singer Jacqueline Lacroix
Tickets £10 (concession £7) Box 667080

Update: All the songs and music from 'The Accordionist' are available on CD
              Send £10 +£2 p&p to:
              Bethany Jameson
              45 Jumpers road
              BH23 2JS
              New material will be going to MySpace or Bethany's website

To see James Marshall's superb pictures of Bethany and Romano in the Phonic FM studio, and in performance at the Bikeshed Theatre, simply click this link - or follow the comment below.

The Beltrami (and Bethany)
in full swing
Romano plays his father's
1955 'Fisarmoniche Maga Ercole'

Bethany Jameson
in the Phonic FM studio

Accompanied by Roman Viazzani


  1. can you post to YouTube? I would love to hear it!



  2. Photos of The Accordionist at The Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter are now online.

  3. Bill, if you're looking at this again, you can listen to Romano on Myspace

    Best wishes