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.
By Lynn Dimenna, Cabaret Scenes | October 12, 2009
Yanna Avis has been called a cross between Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich and that is certainly a flattering comparison. On the contemporary scene she might remind one of “Uma” or “Ute,” as in Thurman or Lemper, given the equally alluring and mysterious quality they share with the international chanteuse. On stage at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency for the second time this fall, in a magnificent skintight black pants suit with a soft white, flouncy collar and cuffs, she definitely enhanced the beauty and elegance of the room
Sultry and sexy, singing a multi-lingual repertoire that has become her forte, she had the strong support of some very fine sidemen: on accordion Patrick Farrell, bass David Finck and violin/viola Eddie Malave. Her Musical Director, David Shenton, and director, Daniel Isengart, musically and artistically shaped a program that enabled her to work her unique and appealing magic to the delight of her savvy, sophisticated audience.
To be sure, very few “chantoosies” in fishnet stockings covering legs that go on forever can stretch out and caress the top of a Steinway and make it look so natural and effortless. One can sense that Ms. Avis is as comfortable there as she is at a café in Paris or dining at the Ritz! All the songs on her song list, whether in French, Italian, Spanish or German, serve to heighten the “mystique!”
Negotiating off the stage and in and around tightly cramped chairs, however, proved to be a challenge that she might not have anticipated. On the other hand, her foray into the audience provided an opportunity to get a sense of who the real Yanna Avis truly is. Seeing her vulnerable made her a bit less mysterious and that much more likeable.