Jan Slavin’s Friendshtick is a most excellent cabaret show for several reasons. First, it has a clear and inviting point of view—namely that friends make life better. Then, it sports an interesting variety of songs. Selections range from Stephen Sondheim to Joe Raposo. But the heart of what makes Friendshtick a keeper is Slavin herself. Vocally she is rock solid—rich in the bottom register yet, with higher tones that, while clean and supported, bring tenderness and vulnerability that are often compelling. This is particularly so in “Roshinkes mit Mandlen” sung mainly in Yiddish (Abraham Goldfaden). Slavin overcomes the language barrier to convey this grandmother’s lullaby and is particularly delicious in the obligato. In “If I Were Pretty” (David Friedman/Muriel Robinson), Slavin reflects—without whining—on behalf of all of us who were absent the day they passed out the movie star good looks. Her delivery is no pity party—it is simply true. Two Francesca Blumenthal songs, “Watching Men Watching Women” and “Wicked Woman,” are nicely paired. Her duet of “Pick Yourself Up” with Boomer Babes partner Pam Peterson is upbeat, fun and musically interesting. In addition to Peterson, Slavin was joined by guests Michelle Greenberg and Carol Weston, who delivered an engaging rendition of “I’m Becoming My Mother,” by well-remembered Chicago songwriter Brian Lasser. Slavin connects to her audience in ways that are unpretentious and warm. Let’s hear it for singing nicely and carrying a big shtick.
January 22, 2012