By Peter Haas, Cabaret Scenes | June 13, 2011
An accordion begins. Yanna Avis—slim, blonde, sultry—enters in a clinging black dress. Parisian by birth, actress by training and career, she reinvented herself several years ago as a cabaret singer, and in that role made her Metropolitan Room debut in June, in a multilingual program of French, German and American songs.
Familiar numbers included a cheery “C’est si bon,” the lament “Mon homme” (sung in French, known in English as the Fanny Brice hit, “My Man”) and a pairing of Cole Porter’s “You Don’t Know Paree” paired with French composer/singer Léo Ferré’s peppy “Paris Canaille.” Another combination, “My Old Flame” and “I Remember You,” both sung in English, formed a lovely, straightforward change of pace, and her “Charleston” (English lyrics by Fred Ebb), with Avis sporting a top hat, was a delight. However, it was her attempt at other American numbers that missed the mark. With “Bye Bye Blackbird” and the too-cute “I Refuse to Rock and Roll” (the latter by Sammy Cahn and Nicholas Brodsky), she may have wanted to appeal to “local taste,” but, instead, may simply have underestimated the international sophistication of the audience who came to see her.
At moments, pseudo-sexy mannerisms took center stage, as if she were playing at the role of chanteuse. Not necessary: she has international flair, and can relax and rely on it. Excellent musical direction and piano accompaniment were contributed by David Shenton, with fine backup by David Finck on bass and Patrick Farrell on accordion.