The story of Edith Piaf is nothing short of extraordinary.

And from this week, the Octagon Theatre, in Bolton, will shine a spotlight on the life of the French singer and cultural icon in Piaf, charting her rise from the streets of Paris to the international stage.

In the title role is Caroline Faber, who will perform Piaf’s iconic songs, including Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien and La Vie En Rose.

Caroline, who played Hunith, Merlin’s mother, in BBC TV series Merlin, said: “We’re in week three of rehearsals. It’s going great, it’s quite an intense piece.”

Piaf sang in public for the first time in 1929, aged 14. 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.

She became known as the “little sparrow”, because of her petite frame and extreme nervousness at singing on stage.

Her fragile appearance creating a striking contrast with her powerful and mesmerising voice.

As her popularity and fame increased, so too did the drama that was to shape her life, with 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”.

n Piaf is at the Octagon until Saturday, June 15. Tickets are from £9.50 to £23.50, call 01204 520661 or visit