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Ginger & Fred

By Anatol Steven. 27.04.2012


Save to foursquare Tērbatas 2, Riga Phone: 6722 3100
Working hours: Mon-Sun 16:00 - 23:00,



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Ginger & Fred is a new restaurant and bar in a historical building beside Vērmanes Gardens that puts on an almost daily repertoire of theatrical performances involving music. On many nights you may need a Latvian friend to whisper a sweet translation in your ear, but there are also musicals that can enjoyed by all nationalities without much interpretation.


One such performance, which continues at least until the end of May, is “Edith Piaf”, a musical journey through the tumultuous life and loves of France’s most popular singer. If you’ve seen the celebrated recent film “La Vie en Rose”, it will be easier to keep up with the frenetic alternations of songs in French, dances and changes of scene, but the show makes for a unique and memorable evening all the same.

The talented singer in the title role, the Lithuanian Rasa Rapalyte, has been singing Piaf’s songs onstage for more than a decade. She boasts a powerful voice. A team of musicians and professionally choreographed dancers in period costume recreate the time and place – Paris before, during and after the war – and help to express the Piaf life story.

Piaf’s personal journey is as famous as her songs. She was raised by prostitutes in a Parisian brothel, had her only child at the age of 17, who died aged two, had lifelong friendships with many actors and singers, worked for the French Resistance during the war, married a famous boxer who was later killed in a tragic plane crash, and was almost killed herself in three separate car accidents. She died aged 47 in 1963.

Events like these are beautifully recreated over two acts in dynamic and dazzling set pieces, in front of a surprisingly modest number of tables. This makes the emotional impact of the musical even more personal as you sit on the same level as the performers and their makeshift props.

The barrier of a high stage is gone, and all your attention is focused on the action. You feel as if you’ve abruptly been transported to Paris, 60 or 70 years back in time.

Other shows on at Ginger & Fred include “Kabirija”, based on Federico Fellini’s 1957 film “Nights of Cabiria”, and a blend of love poetry and Leonard Cohen and Raimonds Pauls songs in “Tas ir laiks”. But for these you may need to sit close to the lips of a friendly local to understand what’s going on.

Order drinks and cold snacks during the performance – tapas, or cheese, meat and fruit selections. Hot meals can be ordered before 18:00 and after the performance ends.

Dishes include a dash of artistry, with a garlic soup made according to one of Monet’s recipes and pan-fried trout in red-wine sauce with artichoke-saffron cream – a recipe cooked up by Toulouse-Lautrec. There’s also lamb stew, beef steak, and fried salmon served with vegetables in a white-wine sauce. Call ahead between 16:00 and 19:00 (except Mondays) to reserve a table.

Come on Sunday between 11:00 and 16:00 and you’ll be treated to Sunday brunch. And on Wednesdays in March from 19:00, a live band will be playing mostly American songs.


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