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Friday, September 26, 2014


(Helena Hettema)

(Review from the artSMart team covering the 2014 Witness Hilton Arts Festival which ran at Hilton College from September 19 to 21)

Enjoyable show filled with memorable music. – Keith Millar

Cabaret artist Helena Hettema was an audience favourite at the Witness Hilton Arts Festival with the selection of well-loved music she performed in her show, Piaf, Other French Legends and a Touch of Me. An interesting title as many of the artists featured, such as Jacques Brel, Leonard Cohen, Marlene Dietrich and Bette Milder, are not French.

However, it mattered not at all because it was all beautiful music and besides there were enough French heartthrobs on the programme to lend the proceedings an unmistakeable air of romance.

Leading the pack was the music of the wonderful Edith Piaf. Hettema does not resemble Piaf physically but she does a good job with the voice, including the trade mark vibrato. Included were the only two songs Piaf wrote herself, La Vie en Rose, Hymnéá Ľamouras well as the timeless Non, je ne Rigrette Rien.

Other music from French artists featured on the programme included Charles Aznavour’s She and Gilbert Becaud’s What Now My Love.

Although Jacques Brel was born in Belgium, he lived and worked in Paris and in many ways was more French than a Frenchman. Hettema was impressive as she sang his songs Pardons, Seasons In the Sun and Marique Marie with passion and sensitivity.

The Touch of Me part of the title referred to Hettema’s own songs which she performed in the show. These included Divided Heart and Quasi Quasi Blu. 

Music from non-French artists included Its Wonderful by Paolo Conte, Suzanne by Leonard Cohen, Streets of London by Ralph McTell, Lily Marlene by Marlene Dietrich and The Rose by Bette Midler.

Helena Hettema has a pleasing voice which is strong, passionate and deep. Her interpretation of the music in her show was very pleasing. She does however employ a little too much vibrato when singing songs other than those of Edith Piaf. In true cabaret style she circles amongst her audience while singing and chats personably to them between songs.

All in all, this was an enjoyable show filled with memorable music which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience in the Art Block at Hilton College. – Keith Millar