The life and career of Piaf is as unique as her distinctive singing style. Raised in a brothel by her grandmother whilst her parents worked as performers, Piaf sang in public for the first time in 1929, aged 14, when she joined her father in his acrobatic street shows. The years that followed were spent as a street singer and it was in 1935 that she was discovered by a nightclub owner, starting her career in an exclusive club off the Champs-Elysees.
Piaf became known as the ‘little sparrow’, so called for her petite frame and extreme nervousness at singing on stage, her fragile appearance creating a striking contrast against her powerful and mesmerising voice. But as her popularity and fame increased so too did the drama that was to shape her life. Connections to the French Resistance, addictions to morphine and alcohol, a dramatic love life that was to end in tragedy, and rumours of links to ‘the mob’ were all to contribute to her enigmatic and ill-fated life.
Caroline Faber, who will perform Piaf’s iconic torch songs live on stage, including "La Vie En Rose" and "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien." Caroline has appeared in numerous theatre productions, most recently Life for Beginners at Theatre 503 and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Caroline recently played Hunith, Merlin’s mother, in the popular BBC TV series Merlin.
Playing the role of Toine, Piaf’s early friend on the streets of Paris, will be Kate Coogan. Kate is currently performing on stage at the Octagon in Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!. Prior to this, she last appeared at the Octagon in the world premiere production of Secret Thoughts by David Lodge. This performance earned her a Manchester Theatre Award (MTA) nomination last year, in the category of Best Actress.
Joining Caroline and Kate on stage, in the role of popular actress and singer Marlene Dietrich, will be Lynda Rooke, who played Pat Phoenix in The Queen of the North. Lynda also performed in the Library Theatre Company’s production of Hard Times (2011), and has recently appeared in BBC’s Silent Witness, Doctors and ITV’s Endeavour.
Taking on the role of Louis Leplée, the nightclub owner who discovered Piaf, will be Danny Cunningham. Danny is a TV and film regular, and is probably best known for his role as Fusilier Andy Butcher in the long running ITV drama series Soldier Soldier. He has starred in numerous films, including 24 Hour Party People where he played Shaun Ryder from the Happy Mondays. He is currently performing on stage at the Octagon Theatre in Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!, alongside Coogan and Rooke.
Piaf is at the Octagon from 23 May - 15 June.