Orlando Fringe review: 'The Sparrow and the Mouse: Creating the Music of Edith Piaf'

So it turns out that bigger isn’t always better.

Last year, singer Melanie Gall performed her tribute to the life and lesser known songs of Irving Berlin in “My Pal Izzy,” a show that seemed a bit cozy for the relatively expansive Orange Venue.

At this year’s Fringe, Gall returns with another musical nod to an iconic musical figure. “The Sparrow and the Mouse: Creating the Music of Edith Piaf” looks at the life of the French balladeer through the eyes of her half-sister Simone Berteaut, the Mouse next to Piaf’s singing Sparrow.

This “Sparrow” takes wing in the cozier Blue venue, which works better as the intimate backdrop for Piaf’s gentle melodies. The closeness between Gall and the audience is particularly effective in the scenes that portray the two women at work as street performers.

On songs such as “Under Paris Skies,” Gall makes good use of her soprano, shifting smoothly from the delicate passages into powerful crescendos. The impact of the dynamic contrasts was heightened in the smaller venue.

She also elevated the songs with well-timed facial expressions, an array of arched eyebrows, smiles and knowing glances that helped to make her character’s devotion to the famous singer more three-dimensional.

In the end, however, it was the intimacy of the songs – from the wistful “If You Go Away” to the stately "Non, je ne regrette rien" – that made this tribute soar.

60 minutes, Blue Venue, $11, Orlando Fringe Festival official page.

Showtimes

  • Thursday 17 May; at 5:30pm in the Blue
  • Saturday 19 May; at 11:30am in the Blue
  • Sunday 20 May; at 7:15pm in the Blue
  • Monday 21 May; at 8:45pm in the Blue
  • Wednesday 23 May; at 6:00pm in the Blue
  • Saturday 26 May; at 6:00pm in the Blue
  • Sunday 27 May; at 11:30am in the Blue