Bechtler Museum of Modern Art Presents a Tribute to Edith Piaf

OCTOBER 20, 2010

Picture it: World War II, just days before the liberation of Paris. The audience at Moulin Rouge awaits the arrival of la môme piaf, the “little sparrow.” She emerges, her tiny 5-foot frame cloaked in her trademark black dress, basks in the adoration of the nightclub crowd and steps into the spotlight and up to the microphone to sing. 

In a one-woman show, local actor Polly Adkins delivers the essence of chanteuse Edith Piaf, one of France’s most beloved singers. In a special two-night performance at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art,  Adkins will transform into the tortured songstress who funneled personal tragedy and emotional struggles through her powerful voice. Adkins, accompanied by accordionist Bob Wilusz, will perform well-known Piaf ballads, La Vie en Rose, L’Hymne à l’amour and Non, je ne regrette rien and other songs from the French vocalist’s heyday.

This theatrical event complements the Bechtler’s new exhibition, School of Paris: European Abstraction Post World War II, which presents artworks created in the French capital during the mid-20th century. A Tribute to Edith Piaf is presented as part of the Bechtler’s Music and Museum Series. Museum president John Boyer will provide commentary prior to the performance.

Adkins teaches French and drama at York Comprehensive High School in South Carolina. She has been involved in the local theater scene for more than 40 years, both directing and acting in community and professional productions. She was chosen by the Metrolina Theatre Association as this year’s Best Supporting Actor (female) in a Musical for her role in Queen City’s Grey Gardens and Best Director of a Comedy (region south) for Fort Mill Playhouse’s Dixie Swim Club.

Adkins first perfomed as Piaf in a 1999 Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte production. “Piaf was the Judy Garland of France. She had an extraordinary life,” Adkins says. “I kind of got into her soul. It’s one of my favorite roles.”   

A Tribute to Edith Piaf is presented October 29 and October 31. A champagne reception begins at 5:00 p.m. with the performance at 5:30. Tickets are $15 for museum members, $20 for non-members (seating is limited). Tickets may be purchased at the Bechtler visitor services desk or by calling 704.353.9200. 

The Bechtler’s Music and Museum Series is sponsored by WDAV 89.9 FM Classical Public Radio.

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