Penny Seats_Jacques Brel show

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris: Feelings that Connect Us All

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris: Feelings that Connect Us All

00:00 / 55:20

Remember that edgy “out there” episode of Its Hot in Here where talented artists sang live tunes from the Tony Award winning musical Urinetown, while talented scientists talked to us about  research  on “peecycling” (or the recovery on nutrients from urine for use in agricultural fertilization?)  Along the way we considered infrastructure (including urinals!) in our greenways and parks, and how more art and science can be showcased in our public spaces.

Well,  they’re back. For the dead of winter spring break in our studios we welcomed the talent behind the  Penny Seats Theatre Company’s recent cabaret style show  Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.  Fresh from their sold out, critically acclaimed performances at the downtown pub Connor O Neill’s, we head from guests including cast members Lauren London and Roy Sexton, show director Laura Sagolla, and musical director Richard Alder.

Jacques Brel is a famous Belgian singer-songwriter who wrote his songs in French during the 1960s. Through his art he became extremely well-known in France, to the degree that the French recognize Brel the way Americans know Bob Dylan or JoniJacques_Brel_Is_Alive_Cast_Recording Mitchell. The show, originally produced in 1968 off broadway, is a revue of Jacques Brel’s music and explores the universal emotions of love, loss, fear, obsession, and hope. Brel’s work is laden with pathos, yet also lighthearted.

During our one hour radio show the cast and crew offer insights and takeaways from the Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris show. They go into the origin of the show and the story behind the production, including why they brought the show onto the local stage and how the music came together. Laura shares with us her story of being moved by Jacques Brel songs growing up, how it resonated with her and why she brought the show to the Penny Seats.  Roy and Lauren, with Rich playing piano in the background, bring their characters to life through on-air musical performances while also delving into their impressions of the characters they reenact. Their insights are a must hear and the tunes include Amsterdam, I Loved, Mathilde, Marieke, and If We Only Have Love.Learn even more from their press release: The Penny Seats announces upcoming season and Penny Seats adds a performance of “Jacques Brel” in Ann Arbor. For pictures of the show, refer to this post on Reel Roy Reviews.

The Penny Seats produce wintertime shows  in intimate settings and summertime shows in Ann Arbor’s City Parks,  in  a crusade to bring quality theatre experiences to the Ann Arbor community at or less than the cost of a movie ticket.  Two distinctly  hilarious and entertaining shows for this summer at West Park are:

  • The Canterbury Tales, adapted from the book by Geoffrey Chaucer – on stage Thurs, Fri, and Sat, June 16 – July 2
  • Xanadu, book by Douglas Carter Beane; Music and Lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar; the 2007 Broadway Musical Comedy Xanadu, based on the 1980 film of the same name – on stage July 7-23.

You can get involved,  find out more about auditioning or production work for the Penny Seats Theatre Company, and check out ticket availability at

Guest Bios

Richard Alder

Rich Alder

Rich Alder is the Musical Director for Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living Paris. Alder is from Westland, MI, which serves as his base of operations for performing with theatre groups across southeast Michigan. He has been involved in more than 370 productions with different groups. Jacques Brel is his second show with the Penny Seats Theatre Company and his first show was the Urinetown in July 2015. Alder will also serve as the Musical Director for Penny Seats’ upcoming 2016 summer shows. Alder is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Music and a retired public school music teacher. He frequently engages as a substitute church organist, woodwind clinician, and solo and ensemble accompanist.

Lauren London

Lauren London

Lauren London is the co-founder and President of the Penny Seats Theater Company and works year-round to create local partnerships and performance opportunities for the group.  She has been a performer for over 25 years and has appeared in numerous professional, amateur, and community theater productions in Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Michigan, with an emphasis on musical theater. London acted as the main character in the Jacques Brel show and her recent roles with The Penny Seats include Belle in Little Me, Constance in Goodnight, Desdemona in Good Morning, Juliet, and Amalia in She Loves Me. In addition, Lauren directed the Penny Seats’ Urinetown and Tomfoolery productions 2015.  By day, she is the Associate General Counsel at Eastern Michigan University.

Roy Sexton

Roy Sexton

Roy Sexton is the co-founder and board member of the Penny Seats Theater Company. He is a main character in the Jacques Brel show and other shows he involved with the Penny Seats include Urinetown, Tomfoolery, Little Me, She Loves Me, What Corbin Knew, and Goodnight Desdemona. Sexton has published two books under the title Reel Roy Reviews. Sexton holds a B.A. in English and Theatre from the Ohio State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan and is now in the Senior Vice President role for Corporate Affairs at Trott Law, P.C., Farmington Hills, MI.

Laura Sagolla 

Laura Sagolla

Laura Sagolla  is the director of the Jacquis Brel show which ultimately brought it to the Penny Seats Theatre Company.  Sagolla is the Vice Chair of the Penny Seats Board of Directors and a past performer in Penny Seats shows, such as She Loves Me and Tomfoolery. She also is a jazz vocalist, and by day an attorney with the United States Department of Justice.

Pictures from today’s show:

Lauren singing Marieke from the Jacques Brel show in Dutch, with Roy singing in the background, and Rich playing the piano.
Lauren singing Marieke from the Jacques Brel show in Dutch, with Roy singing in the background, and Rich playing the piano.
Laura and David
Our guest Laura and in studio audience David enjoying Lauren and Roy’s performance.
In studio production pictures by Roy
In studio production pictures by Roy.
Today’s production team – from left to right, host Pearl Zeng, audio engineer Cameron Bothner, guest Laura Sagolla, guest Lauren London, guest Rich Alder, guest Roy Sexton, and host Sam Molnar.

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