Xara Vaughn is a charming, funny and clearly very talented performer. A striking woman with a great presence on stage, Vaughn went out of her way to greet her audience and make them feel comfortable. A very personable performer she easily put her audience at ease. The production of the show itself is high, with a talented four-piece band behind her and lighting that complemented the mood of the songs throughout.
Vaughan has an incredible life story that involves Jewish cover bands and life in a Nepalese Buddhist nunnery. Though Vaughn’s talent is apparent the format of this show is rather simplistic. For someone with such a fascinating life story I would have liked to have heard more of it. Whenever Vaughan interrupted her singing to talk about her life she seemed almost apologetic. By the end of the show I didn’t feel I knew much more than her listing, yet there are clearly so many more stories to tell. The small glimpses into Vaughan’s life that we were granted proved to be interesting and unusual – they just simply left me wanting more.
Her voice is rich and full of nuance and works wonderfully with some of the new arrangements. A double bill of Coldplay songs was well received, as was her rendition of Cabaret. With helping of Judy Garland and a sprinkling of Shirley Bassey and Rihanna this is a well-rounded set list. However, though some of the arrangements were inspired, the desire to re-work them all into the cabaret genre left them feeling somewhat homogenous.
Vaughan is obviously a great talent with buckets of personality; it’s a shame that this particular show doesn’t showcase it as well as it could.