BWW Reviews: YANNA AVIS is Again Beguiling and Enticing as She Makes Some Sensual Musical Magic at 54 Below

BWW Reviews: YANNA AVIS is Again Beguiling and Enticing as She Makes Some Sensual Musical Magic at 54 Below

Cabaret is a tricky balance. For some, it is a joie de vivre experience defined as the pleasure felt when having a good time. Enter the beguiling Yanna Avis. Since her cabaret debut at Eighty Eight's in 1992, Avis has played every major room in New York and has become one of the most popular international artists, with a fan base that continues to grow. With her new show at 54 Below (on June 18), Make Some Magic, Avis demonstrated why she is so unique and renowned for classy interpretations of songs from the 1930s to 1940s. Singing in German, Spanish, English and French, Avis sauntered through an hour of what she called "my cabaret," which included her old-world deconstruction of seductive songs recalling an intimate boite style made famous by legendary divas famed for erudite and sexy ditties from a world we'll never see again. They are as varied as the French actress/singer Jeanne Moreau to Germany's Marlene Dietrich, who became famous for seducing audiences. Ms. Avis emanates them as she carries a similar torch.

Avis began by announcing . . . Tonight, I'm turning a page. And she did. She was much looser and more diverse than ever. This French chanteuse, known for her multi-lingual interpretations of dreamy songs of romance, demonstrated again why she has become the toast of the international jet set and a darling of the world's finest cabaret rooms. Here, she vacillated from humorous free-style musings to a more serious whisper to declamatory remarks and back again throughout this interesting set of foreign intrigue.

BWW Reviews: YANNA AVIS is Again Beguiling and Enticing as She Makes Some Sensual Musical Magic at 54 BelowDressed elegantly, she cultivates a rarefied kind of glamor that recalls the eras she embraces in song. Throughout the hour, she toyed with the sold out audience of idolaters. This was not your ordinary chanteuse belting show tunes or bi-lingual love songs simply to impress. Avis is too sophisticated for that. This was a concept show of poeticized love songs performed by an intelligent lady who knows her way around whimsy and seduction. Opening with an inviting "Kabaret" and "Make Some Magic," set the stage for the rest of her set. She goes where the songs take her and offers no apologies for tossing her blond hair like a dominatrix's whip. She glides across the stage chatting and flirting with gentlemen seated up front. Her smoky voice is light and can be interpreted any number of ways, from a sassy nasality to a deeper contralto. The edgy banter and body language suit the material and completes the illusion.

Regardless of the language, she gives every song her personal stamp. This was particularly obvious on a smoldering "Johnny" (a Dietrich staple sung in German) and "Mon Homme" (sung in French as "My Man," as she explained it was originally written for cabaret's first star, Mistinguett--not Fanny Brice.) Describing herself as a hopeless romantic, she spoke of her love affair with old films such as Casablanca. Cole Porter is always a part of her shows. Here, she was at home intertwining "You Do Something To Me," and "You've Got That Look." She had fun with a medley of "Une Chanson D'Amour," "C'Est Magnifique" and "C'Est Si Bon." Singing in Spanish, her wispy take on "Sway" fused with "Besame Mucho," pulsated and showed off her jazzy musicians, led by Jon Weber on piano, and including Steve Doyle on bass, Daniel Glass on drums, and on accordion Uri Sharlin, whose haunting touch enhanced the international flavor of the evening.

A tender "When The World Was Young" that was half spoken, showed Avis' more serious, trenchant side. Perched on the piano, legs crossed with an unlit cigarette, she offered "Aren't You Kinda Glad We Did?" that was a crowd pleaser. Another high spot came as she told a love story that jumped from Paris to Berlin as if she had lived it herself and led into "Mein Lieber Herr." This recalled an old movie. Closing with "Easy Come, Easy Go," the sustained ovation said it all. Her people simply love her. A bouncy encore of "Padam, Padam" was a welcome change and left the crowd cheering for this lady who continues to entice with her unique cabaret shows.

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From This Author John Hoglund

John Hoglund is very proud of his lifelong passion for the performing arts which include the worlds of classical music, opera and jazz. It began (read more...)

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