VANJARI! THE Mother/Daughter cabaret
VANJARI: The Mother/Daughter Cabaret!
Starring Evangeline Johns and Ariana Johns
Musical Direction by Darryl Curry
Staging by Max McGuire & Mark Mindek
In their new and unique show, Evangeline and Ariana take the audience on a generational romp from the Blues to Blondie to Broadway—with selections ranging from Java Jive, The Cure, Kander & Ebb, with a dash of Grey Gardens, because…the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree!
A bit about Vangie:
Evangeline began performing in the Copacabana chorus line--then came summer stock and regional theatre, followed by experimental theatre with Laurie Carlos, Suzan-Lori Parks and many others. She performed Off-Broadway in the solo show LATE NIGHT CATECHISM, and in 2017, she joined lyricist Ariana Johns and composer Darryl Curry in the premiere of the new musical, 'BUZZ, SON OF A BEE…AN ACTOR'S LIFE FOR ME'. She recently completed an encore performance of her cabaret, RADIO SONGS, in which Ariana joined her for some duets—sparking such audience enthusiasm that VANJARI was born.
A bit about Ari:
Ariana has performed with Darryl Curry in her cabaret series, THE DREAMER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, and they are currently creating a new musical, A STROLL WITH TROLL, selected by the Dramatist's Guild Foundation for a reading in the Women's Voices Theatre Festival, where Ariana was one of three featured playwrights. She began in comedy/improv with Chicago City Limits, and she's performed her solo show, VAMPINGO…A COMEDY WITH BITE on both coasts. Musical performances include new works at The National Opera Center, The Metropolitan Room, and Musical Theatre Factory.
VANJARI REVIEW in DC Metro Theatre Arts
by Deb Miller 9.26.2018
What more suitably provocative venue for VANJARI than Don’t Tell Mama? Established on Restaurant Row in 1982, the popular piano bar, cabaret, and restaurant takes its name from the spirited song in Kander and Ebb’s blockbuster musical Cabaret, in which Sally Bowles directs the audience to keep her scandalous life as a nightclub singer a secret from her mother. But unlike Sally, Ariana Johns (who started out doing stand-up and improv comedy) doesn’t have to worry about her mom, Evangeline Johns (who began her own show-biz career performing in the Copacabana chorus line), finding out about her work – she’s half of the act!
Presented by Vampingo Productions, VANJARI (a contraction of the Johns women’s first names) returned to Don’t Tell Mama’s backroom stage for two dates in September (following a sold-out debut in July) with their latest mother/daughter cabaret. The set list consisted of a mixed bag of favorite songs from both generations and some lighthearted verbal sparring and familial affection between the two, which they were obviously enjoying every bit as much as their fans did.
The pair’s amusing banter provided introductions to the songs, bracketed by opening and closing numbers that captured their close personal and professional relationship (“Two Peas in a Pod” and “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Very Far from the Tree”). Accompanied on piano by Musical Director Darryl Curry, who provided some terrific back-up vocals while masterfully tickling the ivories, the duo performed a total of sixteen standards and original works (“A Certain Age” from their new musical Buzz, Son of a Bee . . . An Actor’s Life for Me– a collaboration with Curry, who wrote the music; and “Marilyn” – a spoken word tribute to Marilyn Monroe, written by Evangeline, with the women delivering the heartfelt alternating verses).
Among the highlights were a lively duet on “Java Jive,” accentuated by all the right period-style moves, and a medley (suggested and arranged by Curry) of Evangeline singing “Autumn Leaves” interwoven with Ariana’s vocals on “California Dreamin’” (reminiscing about the state where she was born). There were also entertaining solos on the laughingly creepy “Ave Satani” by the daughter, which she joked was one of her early audition songs, and the mother’s homage to New Orleans voodoo queen “Marie Laveau,” in which she put mock curses (“another man done gone”) on some male members of the audience (staging by Max McGuire and Mark Mindek).
If you missed the VANJARI dates at Don’t Tell Mama this time around, you can expect a return to their long-time favorite cabaret in the future, and there’s also been some talk of them recording a CD and video of songs from the show.
'Evangeline and Ariana have gifted us with talent, variety and class--they are the real deal!' --Sondra Lee
'A fabulous show! If you're in New York in September, drop by Don't Tell Mama, and see two delightfully talented ladies entertain you and bring the house down! It's a HIT!!! It should run FOREVER!!!' --Michael Citriniti
'Two legendary Theatrical Goddesses using their unique interpretive skills to set DON'T TELL MAMA'S ablaze with nostalgia, humor and a whole lotta' heart. To see (and hear) the world through their eyes is to remember what a beautiful woman, some serious talent, and a microphone can bring to our world'--Daniel McDonald, The View From the Trailer Park
'Congratulations on a wonderful show. I had such a good time! Loved your choice of material and your repartee' --Debra Vogel
VANJARI IN THE NEWS:
From Nite Life Exchange 9.25.2018:
NiteLife Exchange celebrates Evangeline and Ariana with Six Questions:
Ariana Johns (AJ) – I I knew very early by watching my parents, both of whom were (and still are!) in the theatre, that I wanted to play too! I acted when I was just a wee tot at Greenwich House in such classics as The Tinder Box, then did a lot of musical improv with OK, So We Lied, at clubs around town, prior to my first musical, VAMP, where I sang the immortal “Rock Him in his Coffin” with another vampire bride. I arrived on the cabaret stage via comedy, then singing after working with my musical director Darryl Curry, and being encouraged to put together my first show, The Dreamer’s Guide to the Galaxy.
2. NLE – Which is the most memorable experience you’ve had in your singing/acting career?
EJ – My most memorable singing/acting experience was in our recent musical, Buzz, Son of a Bee, a great comic part with a lovely song that closed the first act. “Cora’s Song” was touching and funny. A delight to deliver.
AJ – I’ll probably be repeating my mom, but Buzz, Son of a Bee: an Actor’s Life for Me, for which I wrote the lyrics, with Darryl composing and my dad, internationally produced playwright, Andrew Johns writing the book! (I also wound up with a good part to play! And now Darryl and I are working on a new musical, A Stroll with Troll, a magical experience in so many ways.
3. NLE – What would you say is your current motivator?
EJ – My current motivation is the love I have for singing and sharing song with others. It’s Cloud Nine for me.
AJ – Delight— especially when we get the wonderful exchange of energy with an audience, or have a great rehearsal. We’re currently recording some “Troll” songs with some marvelous singers, including Sierra Rein, Blake Zolfo, Mick Bleyers and Erin Cronican. And we’re recording a CD with VANJARI too!
4. NLE – With regard to future shows, how many others do you already have in mind?
EJ – I have two other shows in mind—an evening of torch songs and blues, and a second, an all new show with my daughter.
AJ – I guess I’ve already gone on a bit about that, but as far as cabaret, definitely more VANJARI shows. Radio Days was our debut in a way, as we did four duets and realized we wanted to do much, much more.
5. NLE – What are the ways you go about sourcing material for your projects/shows?
EJ – In order to discover new songs, I keep my ears open, wherever I’m at, whatever I’m doing. Seek and ye shall find. My husband also enjoys finding new songs for both me and Ariana.
AJ – Once people hear we have a mother/daughter act, the suggestions start flowing—and we’re both writers, so we include at least one original song and prose piece per show. It works and is always surprising. Plus, the “mix tape” in my head is seemingly endless!
6. NLE – What do you like to do on your spare time?
EJ – (Laughing) What spare time? Okay, late at night, I have a secret pleasure—I read mysteries or do the New York Times crossword puzzle.
AJ – I have a little orchid garden in the apartment, and a big, demanding cat, as well as a talented partner, Greg Mullavey. And I love to cook, walk a few brisk miles a day, read voraciously and binge watch TV. Plus, I’m in a (mostly) Shakespeare reading group, and—wait, did you say free time? Oh, and bubble baths.