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Ava Vukic & Frank Silletti: The Book of Ava – Our Time

| October 17, 2015

Ava Vukic and Frank Silletti

The Book of Ava – Our Time

Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, October 14, 2015

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Frank-Silletti-Ava-Vukic-Cabarert-Scenes-Magazine_212The crazy mothers of TV’s Dance Moms, the precocious Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, and even the ultimate stage mother, Madame Rose from Gypsy, all came to mind when I thought of reviewing a mother/daughter act. Only in this case, the mama is a papa, and the cynic in me was overcome with the genuine (if not scripted) sincerity of The Book of Ava. Sure, adopted father is a dedicated musical theater aficionado who provides the nurturing atmosphere for his youngster. Sure, he indulges her education of all things musical (including an obsession with Julie Andrews).  Sure, they perform together satisfying both their performance itches.

But unlike the sordid stage motherisms so prevalent today, Frank Silletti and Ava Vukic have a positive message to tell through song that elevates their show from the fodder of the awkward and tawdry. Ava is a part of the new world family structure recently buoyed by the passage of marriage equality. A duet of Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin’s “It’s a New World” and “If I Ruled the World” (Bricusse/Ornadel) holds forth a much needed optimism and Beauty and the Beast’s “No Matter What” (Alan Menken/Tim Rice, from the stage version) is full of the pride Ava and Frank hold for their family.

The set list follows Ava’s birth—“Maybe” (Martin Charnin/Charles Strouse), “Suddenly” (Claude-Michel Schönberg/Alain Boublil/Herbert Kretzmer)—their fondness for Julie Andrews (a Mary Poppins medley) to gay marriage—“Married” (Kander & Ebb)/“An Old Fashioned Wedding” (Irving Berlin). Ava is adorable and personable, and at moments shows glimmers of real vocal quality. At age 11, she has plenty of time to nurture her vocal training to see what happens. Cuteness only goes so far as one ages up. Subtlety, nuance, phrasing and emotional connection should be her next development steps. The Book of Ava is still being written, and with supportive parents like she has, the sky may be the limit.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, Regional, San Francisco, San Francisco Cabaret Reviews

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