The Theater: Famous Lady, Funny Men

Paris admires a tiny, intense chanteuse named Edith Piaf. An itinerant acrobat's daughter with a patched-skirt childhood, she specializes in songs about love-battered girls. Last week, as the star of a continental variety show, Mlle. Piaf began singing (mostly in French) her drab ballads on Broadway. She flung them out resonantly, acted them out skillfully and sometimes appealingly. But she was not half as much fun as nine very gay young Frenchmen on the program, billed as Les Compagnons de la Chanson, who sing a song well and spoof a song wonderfully.

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