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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

DANIÈLE PASCAL (article first published : 2001-06-15)

French chanteuse and entertainer Danièle Pascal has been performing in South Africa for no less than 17 years. From her early days working with the legendary Taubie Kushlick, she has created a strong following among South African audiences who in turn have established a strong loyalty to her, particularly in small outlying towns in the Cape where, to quote her, they only have satellite and no live performers.

Currently appearing at the Royal Hotel’s Backstage, Danièle Pascal’s show is familiar, sophisticated and performed with the expertise we have come to associate with her. It’s like slipping into a comfortable and much-loved pair of slippers and being bathed in song.

No razzmatazz, fancy lights, glitzy set or up-tempo music introductions for her. She appears quietly and her voice comes out of the darkness like a whisper on an eyelash. At the piano, Liza Joubert is a sympathetic and sensitive accompanist. Together they present a show dealing with “songs of love, faith, loss and the dance of life.”

There is very little patter between the numbers – one song moves comfortably to another. Mainly melancholy in flavour, they are sung mostly in French which is a perfect language for touches of gentle irony, self-deprecating shrugs of sadness, tinges of heartache or full dollops of satire.

Danièle Pascal has mastered the liquid phrasing of songs such as My Ship and Pleurer des Rivieres (Cry Me a River) and didn’t disappoint with the ultimate Piaf number Non, Je ne Regrette Rien.

Considering the material, it would be easy to dismiss the show as melancholy. Rather, it provides a quiet time to contemplate and pause for reflection while watching a consummate artiste express herself through song. Having worked with some of the world’s finest, she now lives in the tiny town of Napier in the Cape. She talks with vigour about her forthcoming jazz show in Cape Town and an appearance at the Cherry Festival in Ficksburg. She’s also writing a book about her experiences of performing in South Africa.

Performances Wednesday to Saturday at 19h00. Tickets at R120 include a three-course meal and the menu for this show naturally has a distinct French flavour. Starters include French Onion Soup or Garden Mushroom Terrine, which was my choice and very pleasant in taste and texture. Main course choices were Coq-au-Vin or Linefish Mornay. My husband had the fish but complained that the parmesan presented too strong a flavour. However, he was extremely happy with the onion soup.

Unfortunately, I’m not happy with either red wine or fish so had a problem with both main course items. However, it’s pre-Comrades Marathon night and the hotel’s kitchen services are heavily into carbo-loading! So I was offered mince lasagne which was very nice indeed. For dessert, there’s the Royal’s exceptional Crème Brûlée. Book through Royal Reservations on (031) 333-6222.




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