"eye poppingly notable acting, dancing, and singing performances by Leslie Stevens as Nickie, and Elvira Barjau as Helene … a duo of explosive dance hostess “firecrackers”!"
Last Sunday at Sterling’s I was introduced to a terrific new singer Elvira Barjau. Her voice is crystal clear with great ringing tones. Her specialty is Jazz, which she marrys with her love of theatre. Her reason for being at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal was the release of her new album, So This Is Love, released with the help of her husband Franz Mehrfert the musical director for the evening and the leader of the excellent six-person band that accompanied her.
The theme of the evening was Love. She used much of the evening to relate stories of her own journey into romance with her husband of seven years. She begin with an arrangement by her husband of a medley of Lovers written by Natalie Cole, Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy, and L.O.V.E. by Bert Kaempfert and Milt Gabler. She followed this with Where or When by Rodgers and Hart, Unexpected Song by Black and Webber, and He Touched Me by Levin and Schafer.
Her singing reminded me of the incredible China Forbes, the vocalist with the celebrated group Pink Martini. This comparison was particularly true when she sang a Cuban song Dos Gardenias. Like Forbes, Barjau is attracted to jazz and is highly skilled. I only wish she had more variety in her song choices. All jazz singers also sing blues and the closest Barjau came to any negative side to love was Where Do I Start by the Bergmans and Johnny Mandel, and Down with Love by David Shire. Even in these choices she remained in the jazz camp and never revealed any darker side to her experiences in trying to love someone. She is young and perhaps this will come with age. I don’t really remember Ella Fitzerald singing dark songs but like Barjau, she was attracted to scat singing.
The last songs returned to her theme of love with Back on Base by David Shire, Why Did I Choose You by Leonard and Martin, Home by Charlie Smalls and So This is Love by Livingston, David and Pack. For her encore she rocked out with River Deep, Mountain High. Her new CD contained many of these songs and is available through Amazon.
It is an honor to have been part of the cast for DOMA Theatre's production of Mel Brook's Musical, Young Frankenstein, which has received 7 OVATION AWARD Nominations in 2015. It was one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had in musical theatre; meeting and performing for Mel Brooks, along with a cast of some of the most generous and talented artists I have had the privilege of working with in my career, thus far. Being nominated is the icing on the cake. No matter the outcome, everyone is a winner for having received this recognition and nomination. Congratulations to DOMA THEATRE CO., and to my beloved Franken-family!
OVATION AWARDS will be presented in Los Angeles on November 9, 2016 at the Ahmanson Theatre.