Ariana Savalas slinks through the crowd and makes her way to stages all across the world. She evokes Marilyn Monroe for sheer glamour, Marlene Dietrich for demurity, Bette Midler for her biting wit. She teases the men of the audience, much as those great ladies did, parking herself on the lap of one man, and teasing the wives of others.
There is a word often used to describe confident women. That word is ‘moxie,’ and Ariana Savalas’ show is brimming with it. Equal parts Moulin Rouge decadence, Gatsby-esque sophistication, with a splash of German burlesque bawdiness. A singer, dancer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and comedienne extraordinaire, over the course of an evening she can seduce, surprise and touch you – sometimes literally.
Savalas found a group of kindred spirits in the vintage-pop mash-up project Postmodern Jukebox. Their collaborations, timeless in a way that parallels her own music, have garnered over 200 million views and reached #1 on the iTunes jazz charts. She’s traveled the world with them on tour, playing in renowned venues like Radio City Music Hall, The Greek Theater, and the O2 at Roundhouse in London.
She joined the circus of Hollywood early in her career, guest appearing on primetime TV shows such as Criminal Minds. But eventually she ran away with the real circus, headlining as the madame of the world famous Teatro Zinzanni, joining the likes of Tony Award winners Liliane Montevecchi and Tommy Tune as well as jazz legend Darlene Love.
If Savalas seems born to be on the stage, that’s probably because she was. Her father was actor Telly Savalas, whose larger-than-life persona and arched-eyebrow sense of humor she inherited. She grew up living an Eloise-like existence in Los Angeles’ Sheraton Universal Hotel, wrapping herself in the curtains to put on homemade shows for the man who played the lollipop-sucking detective Kojak and the dirtiest of the Dirty Dozen.
After his passing in 1994 she moved with her family to Minnesota and attended a convent school during her teens – and if Hollywood seems like a corrupting environment, try living with nuns for three years.
But she brings more than a fairy-tale childhood and a string of broken hearts to her act; Savalas attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she studied more than the men in tights – her provocative wordplay reveal the lessons she soaked up on Shakespeare and poetry.
Back in L.A. she became a member of Playhouse West, the repertory theater company co-founded by Jeff Goldblum, from whom she gleaned the art of combining the quirky and the alluring. There is no stage too big for Ariana to get up close and personal in the eyes, ears, hearts and more forbidden places of her audiences.