I met some old friends for a show the other night.

I caught up with Aretha Franklin, Carole King and Ronnie Spector. I sipped a Coke while dishing with Etta James and Stevie Nicks. I shared stories with Carly Simon and Linda Ronstadt.

We all have a friend in common: Tara Vaughan. She provided the entertainment for the evening, singing song after song from the queens of pop in “She Rocks,” her new revue at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Vaughan’s show is a tribute to the artists she “met” through her parents, as well as those she became acquainted with on her own. Sometimes she hewed closely to an idol’s original sound, and at other times she got a little crazy.

The singer has a pretty versatile instrument: Depending on the song, her voice can be somewhat slight and girlish (appropriate for some of the girl groups of the early 1960s); folksy and alternative (that came out on a couple of her own compositions); sexy (“At Last”) and just plain powerful (“Barracuda”).

She’s also an accomplished pianist and a longtime band member for singer Billy McGuigan (“Rock Twist,” “Yesterday and Today”). She told the crowd that “She Rocks” grew out of that relationship: She was at a turning point and decided she wanted her own show, and he helped her create it. He’s listed in the program as the producer.

Some highlights:

“You’re So Vain”: Vaughan and her band, which includes McGuigan’s brothers Matthew and Ryan, drummer Adam Stoltenberg, guitarist Max Meyer and backup singer and guitarist Natalie Thomas, had a lot of fun with this song, though the arrangement and sound was close to Simon’s. That’s a good thing.

Vaughan has a great stage presence — she tells jokes, often on herself; she has a rapport with band members and asks the audience to sing along; and she has engaging storytelling skills.

Before this song, she speculated who it was written about. (Not Simon’s ex-husband, James Taylor, she reassured the crowd. “We love him!” Then she said we should pretend it was about her uncle, who was in the audience grinning.)

“You’ve Got a Friend”: It was just Vaughan, a keyboard and harmony with Matthew McGuigan. The piano arrangement, close to composer Carole King’s original, showcased Vaughan’s considerable keyboard talents.

“Wedding Bell Blues”: This skewed more toward composer Laura Nyro than the Fifth Dimension (who had the hit), at least to me. I love both versions, but it honored Nyro better that way. It’s one of my very favorites (just ask my husband), and not one you usually hear in revues that hue closely to the best-known tunes.

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Other unexpected choices included two Fleetwood Mac songs: “Landslide,” sounding very Nicks-like, and “Say You Love Me” (Vaughan killed it.)

“You Keep Me Hangin’ On”: The generous Vaughan turned the stage over to Thomas, who belted out this Diana Ross & the Supremes hit like it was her original. She also offered a stunning version of Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.” If we don’t hear a lot more about her in coming years, it’s proof that the world is unfair.

“At Last”: This encore was — in a word — sublime. It illustrated why Vaughan has her own show and you don’t. (The other encore, Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart,” was pretty kick-a** as well.)

The crowd: This show, in the small Howard Drew Theatre, had a distinct party atmosphere. Part of that probably came from the large contingent who personally knew Vaughan, including family members. Baby boomers were out of their seats, dancing in a spontaneous competition with people on the other side of the balcony. It was delightful.

I went the night after opening night, and there were a couple of light and sound glitches that should be ironed out by now. And though it included selections from newer artists such as Sheryl Crow and Amy Winehouse, the show was at its best when the audience (heavily populated with people who were 45-plus) was on the nostalgia train.

I also think there was a place for at least a couple more ballads similar to “At Last” for a more balanced playlist

Yeah, yeah, the show is called “She Rocks,” not “She Ballads.” But I’m fairly sure that, like me, most people would be glad to stick around to meet a couple more old friends.

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Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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