Amanda Gari is the granddaughter of the legendary Eddie Cantor, and in her new show “Banjo Eyes with Mascara,” she performs the story of her life.
This wonderful cabaret show is packed full of phenomenal music and hilarious anecdotes about her grandfather, her parents and how she became the performer she is today.
I’m a huge fan of solo shows. They give us a truly unique insight into another person’s life, no snooping needed, no restraining orders, no unauthorised information, just neatly packed highly entertaining personal tour, taking only an hour or two of our time. How else could we ever know what it means to be somebody else if we were not invited in? Solo shows at their best feel as if you are the only other person in the room and this show is just like that.
Amanda Gari’s warm and very genuine personality electrify the stage, and accompanied by the incredible Andy Howe Trio she sings her way from babyhood to present day with with the help of some of the most well loved musical standards of our time.
Ms Gari uses her considerable talent and lovely voice to turn these songs into something all her own. Some of my particular favorites of the evening were “Wherever He Ain’t,” “All the Good Men Are Gay,” and “The Hostess With the Mostess’” along with some absolutely hilarious and very clever additional lyrics by Ms Gari.
Ms Gari artfully guides us through her life, her very close relationship with her brilliant grandfather Eddie Cantor and her own development as a performer, even sharing sweet childhood film footage of her singing and dancing under the delighted gaze of her parents and grandfather.
Amanda Gari is a regular on the cabaret scene, “The Beginning of the Rainbow,” her study on Liza Minelli is a crowd favorite and over her career she has developed an incredible skill as a mimic of Liza Minelli, Barbara Streisand and Judy Garland. As a character actress she has worked on TV and film for decades, and she can be seen as Gal Friday Lydia Lasker in the new hit comedy web series, “Old Dogs & New Tricks.”
Ms Gari has inherited her grandfather’s famous “banjo eyes” and uses them to full effect, beguiling her audience as she sings and as she shares precious memories. As beautiful as Ms Gari is, she cannot help but ham it up a little for us too, reminding us of the comedic gifts she inherited from her beloved grandpa.
“Banjo Eyes with Mascara” is a brilliantly balanced show. The band is incredible, Ms Gari sublime and together with the wonderful film and pictures from her life she creates a truly magical experience about a life very well lived.
The show is running through October 21, every Friday night at 8pm at the timeless Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. I cant think of a better way to spend an evening as we move into the holiday season. It reminds us of our eternal connections to our family and how we must cherish and honor them.
Running through October 21, Fridays at 8pm
The Whitefire Theatre
13500 Ventura Boulevard., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423