This review of Frans Bloem’s “Jubilee” at Eighty Eight’s was written by Maya T. Amis and appeared in Volume III, Issue 1 (April, 1998) of Applause! Applause! published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens.
"Jubilee" - Frans Bloem
Eighty Eight's (228 West 10th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 1/13/98 at 8:00 p.m.
Coming on stage, winding his way through the tables, Frans Bloem makes instant contact with his audience, converting them into lifelong friends with his expressive, almost flirtatious eyes, wide smile and relaxed air. Like previous shows, this one brings his friends - old and new - up to date on his life and emotional state, using a conversational style and songs ranging from one of this year's MAC nominees for best song (Carol Hall and Steven Lutvak's wonderful "A Lover Of High Wire") to old French favorites (you can almost hear the accordion in the background when he sings his medley of "Pigalle", "Paris Skies" and "Windmills Of Your Mind" in French and English).
Not entirely the celebration its title indicates, this show often has a wistful quality as Bloem ponders human nature (and his own) and takes the opportunity to look at his life, both past and present. This is not to say that he can't be funny: he has a sly wit that glints through at unexpected moments, and he uses his job as a tour manager as inspiration for some irresistible and heartfelt humor in Noel Coward's "Why Do The Wrong People Travel". Bloem's unforced, and totally genuine, continental charm is engaging, and it is easy to see why he is a successful tour guide, frequently jaunting off to exotic places before returning home to the West Village -- and to Eighty Eight's -- to regale us with a new show, sharing the wisdom and humor he has acquired over his years of travel and adventure.
Bloem has a uniquely irrepressible hospitality; most of his shows are followed by a party at his house to which the audience is invited. Somehow, these informal get-togethers seem an utterly appropriate gesture from this convivial gentleman -- a concrete example of his expansive personality.