Reviewer: Agnes Frimston
Last year Lady Rizo won the inaugural TOAST Award, and her show combines vintage arrangements of pop songs from every decade and her own new material, all sung with lung-bursting strength. It’s just a shame about the bits in between the music.
Rizo, alias America’s Amelia Zirin-Brown, enters like a true cabaret star, in a red superhero frock, and glitter everywhere. Her voice is amazing, and she is incredibly watchable. She is accompanied by 3 musicians, one of whom she repeatedly forgets the name of (this is not a joke: he’s clearly very pissed off, and the other musicians are obviously embarrassed). Perhaps her lovely assistant Brendan could add his name to the lyrics sheet he brought on stage for her mid-way through the show? For someone who is clearly an old-hand at performing, this was astonishingly unprofessional. Once may be regarded as a misfortune, three times is just unforgivably rude.
In places, Rizo really shines. She mentions the Grammy she won, and then, to prove how much they matter, and how high the quality was that year, goes on to perform a brilliant reclamation of another song that won that year: Jamie Foxx’s awful ‘Blame It (On the Alcohol)’.https://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gif Her discussion of shame, and how to get rid of it you should share your shameful secrets (spoiler alert: her thing is that she used to be a singer on a cruise ship) was engaging, and some of her own compositions are thoroughly enjoyable.
The best cabaret artists have some sort of thread in their patter to keep the momentum up. Rizo’s feels random and slap-handed, and in places, rather boring. Her band was miffed at her, which made the atmosphere on stage odd. During a costume change, she grabbed a man from the audience to help her behind a back-lit screen while she got naked, and asked him how he lost his virginity. He stole the show by being brilliant, but this was hardly an imaginative choice of question (sex, gasp, – how shocking!), and if he had felt differently, it would have been unpleasant and exploitative.
But everybody left the show very happy. The audience loved her. So if you like good songs sung very well, and don’t sit anywhere near the stage, you’ll probably have a good evening. Personally, I’d expect a bit more bang for my buck. But I can see that she would have made a very good cruise ship singer.