Photo Credit: Sue Matsuki

Eve Marie Shahsian
Broadway & Beyond
Birdland Theater
Sunday, July 7th @ 7:00 pm

Strutting to the stage with confidence and panache, and opening with “Pure Imagination” (A. Newley / L. Bricusse) Eve Marie Shahsian sparkled in a gorgeous dress and “wowed” with impressive vocals

Shahsian grew up in Oakland, CA and was considered a child vocal prodigy who began performing regularly in the 1980’s on television, concerts, symphony, and musical theater. She appeared on the “Mike Douglas Show” and “The Tonight Show.” This set expectations high.

She sang many familiar chestnuts and standards in a straight-forward way, (re-creating the songs as a “cover” of the original artist vs. creating new arrangements and making a personal statement). The music was a mixture of song “feels” and allowed her to show some jazz chops on songs like “Blue Skies” (I. Berlin / R. Burger). Her rendition of “Who Dat Man?” was stellar.  Also on this tune there was an incredible stride feel from Jon Weber and a Kruppa feel by Daniel Glass on drums that made me sit up and take note! Equally riveting was “She Used to be Mine” (S. Bareilles) from Waitress.  

While the voice is a lovely instrument, and she did seem connected to her lyrics, the overall show presented some problems proving once again, it takes a lot more than just a great voice to succeed in cabaret.

This was an evening of 20 beautifully sung songs but it was still an evening of 20 songs! An hour and a half show is fine for Marilyn Maye or Karen Mason but, even they would be the first to advise programming a show of 60-70 minutes maximum. Sometimes, too much of a good thing is still too much.

The band, led by Jon Weber on piano, Saadi Zane on Bass, Daniel Glass on drums and Jacob Galdes, on guitar was awesome. Galdes was presented as a “special guest” by Ms. Shahsian but he didn’t have any air time or substantial solos.

There were also two guest spots, the wonderful Eugene Ebner came to stage and, while the patter exchange between the two of them seemed awkward (stilted and scripted), their blend on the duets was lovely. They were clearly under-rehearsed, however, as Shahsian seemed unsure of her musical entrances. A second guest appearance (with another artist) did not fair as well. It is important to note that one should never invite a guest artist to stage if you aren’t sure that they will shine. Mr. Ebner, of course, handled himself as the pro that he is but Shahsian’s second guest, while possibly wonderful on their own, was not up to par in this spot and this appearance didn’t serve either of them very well.

Shahsian accompanied herself on the aforementioned, “She Used to be Mine,” and then stayed at the piano to do 3 original tunes. The songs were beautiful, each of them worthy of a spot that allowed them to stand out. Presented as a set, however, they melded into each other (4 back-to-back ballads basically) and lost some of their individual appeal. This translated into people looking at their watches and cell phones, and is an example of how proper programming would have allowed these songs to stand out as the impressive works they are. Shahsian would have done well to place her original tunes in between the more well-known tunes so that her audience had a chance to relax into a familiar lyric.

Shahsian is an incredibly talented singer with a beautiful voice. However, as previously mentioned, a cabaret show is so much more than  just a voice and good taste in music. With an embarrassment of riches it’s important to edit, to show your strengths and know when to move on. A Director would be of great help to her in showcasing her talents, should she ever come back to New York to do another show, and I hope she does.

NOTE:  The artist did not provide a song list and/or band credits.