When Ariana Savalas takes the stage, satisfaction is guaranteed – and she’s willing to pack as many entendres into that promise as you can take. With a voice fit for an elegant ballroom, a mouth better suited for the local dive bar and a mind completely at ease in the gutter outside, Savalas puts on a dazzling and daring show that will make you dance, laugh, swoon and fidget uncomfortably in your seat. She’s a consummate show-woman with a take-no-prisoners (unless you’re into that sort of thing) attitude that might just make her this generation’s Bette Midler.
Savalas marries – well, she’s not really the marrying type; let’s just say she engages in a series of one-night stands with – Gatsby-esque decadence and Snapchat sensibility, swing era sophistication and Sunset Strip grit. A singer, dancer, songwriter, actress and chanteuse, over the course of an evening she can seduce, surprise and touch you – sometimes literally. It’s like 3-D with a couple of extra Ds thrown in for good measure.
Not afraid to get her hands dirty unraveling the messy entanglements of love, sex and relationships in all their multifarious variations, Savalas takes on the role of the lover you always wanted, the ex you never got rid of, or the best friend who won’t stop drunk-dialing. You’ll leave her performances humming a new melody and stifling a laugh while regretting your life choices and scrolling through your contacts to figure out who’s up.
If Savalas seems born to be on the stage, that’s probably because she was. Her father was actor Telly Savalas, whose larger-than-life persona and arched-eyebrow sense of humor she inherited. She grew up living an Eloise-like existence in Los Angeles’ Sheraton Universal Hotel, wrapping herself in the curtains to put on homemade shows for the man who played the lollipop-sucking detective Kojak and the dirtiest of the Dirty Dozen. After his passing in 1994 she moved with her family to Minnesota and attended a convent school during her teens – and if Hollywood seems like a corrupting environment, try living with nuns for three years.
But she brings more than a fairy-tale childhood and a string of broken hearts to her act; Savalas attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she studied more than the men in tights – her provocative wordplay reveal the lessons she soaked up on Shakespeare and poetry. Back in L.A. she became a member of Playhouse West, the repertory theater company co-founded by Jeff Goldblum, from whom she gleaned the art of combining the quirky and the alluring.
Savalas found a group of kindred spirits in the vintage-pop mash-up project Postmodern Jukebox. Their collaborations, timeless in a way that parallels her own music, have garnered millions of views and reached #1 on the iTunes jazz charts. She’s traveled the world with them on tour, playing in renowned venues like Radio City Music Hall and the O2 at Roundhouse in London. There is no stage too big for Ariana to get up close and personal in the eyes, ears, hearts and more forbidden places of her audiences.
• Great American Music Hall is an ALL-AGES (6+) venue.
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