I still think Aja Nisenson is an exceptionally talented young woman despite her misguided foray entitled “Daja Vu” which is being produced as part of the NY Int’l Fringe Festival. It is her newest one woman show.
Last June I saw her “Piccola Cosi” at the Triad and instantly became a fan of this most original performer who defies being categorized. She can sing. And be loony. She’s innocently sexy, with a beauty that reminds one of Vivien Leigh. “Piccola Cosi” dealt with her travels and travails in Italy as a young jazz singer and the men she met.
This newest cabaret act centers around her alter-ego “Daja Vu” (which sounds like a name that a drag queen might adopt) who is supposedly a world renowned chanteuse who has come to the Bowery Poetry Club (where three bucks will buy you a small bottle of eau ordinaire) to bring a little bit of France to us while flirting unabashedly with the audience as some ditzy star dressed in black and bling, crooning Piaf, Cole Porter, Bonnie Raitt, Gershwin and what must be her favorite tune Besame Mucho.
There is no jazz trio this time around but a lone pianist, David Gaines, who very nicely accompanies Aja through her hit and miss act. A sixty plus minute act that has Aja mingling with the audience, calling on mother for advice, pulling various object from her bra, chewing wads of gum and singing a ditty draped on the bar opposite the stage that has the audience uncomfortably straining to see her, having to twist their bodies in the process
Aja Nisenson’s reincarnation is not fully developed yet and emits mixed signals as her disarming openness works against her newly created character. Is she being serious or is this a satire or something in between? Is she Aja or Daja Vu? Fearless though she is, she hasn’t gone far enough.
She transcends the material (which she has penned) most of the time. While Aja can sing with the best of them and has an extraordinary range she is also trying too hard to be outrageously funny when it really comes so naturally to her. Her mime rendition of “If You Go Away” helped save the day.
Suggestion: rethink “Daja Vu”. Dust off your beret and restructure. Your talent is worth being seen in the proper setting. Don’t sell yourself short. Be yourself and perhaps put “Daja Vu” up for adoption. Bonne chance!
NOTE: Kris Paltanavicius, the venue host, should start working on his own show. He was a natural and hysterical as he introduced Aja explaining what to do if an emergency should occur. Not once but twice as director Michael Aman has him repeat this mini stand up routine during the show. The sped up version was even funnier. He’s an undiscovered talent to watch.
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