During the course of a year, we count ourselves extremely lucky if we find one singer who, in his or her debut show, exhibits that rare combination of a distinctive voice, interpretive skill, and charisma. This year, there were several people who stood out in their cabaret bows, but one of them in particular has managed the impressive feat of displaying a luminous talent while also putting over an impressively sophisticated act. That person is Lorinda Lisitza, and her show is titled Songs in the Style of Weill. Lisitza is a striking beauty with a face a cinematographer would love to light; better still, any director worth a damn would be able to see that she's also an actress to the soul. (The fact is, you have to be an actress to properly perform the songs of Kurt Weill.)
In this show at Don't Tell Mama, Lisitza wraps entertaining patter concerning her passion for Weill around songs by her favorite composer; also represented is the work of others whose music shares an affinity with Weill's, such as Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. Lisitiza sings every phrase with a penetrating awareness of its truth and her voice remains fluid as she makes one riveting acting choice after another. She's young, she's fresh, and she's bound to make some mistakes, but you'll want to be there to see her make each bold choice. You have one more chance: there is one performance in the current run of the show at Don't Tell Mama on Friday, January 3, at 7pm.
Rick Crom's What in the World?! is a brand new musical revue that can (and should) be found Upstairs at Rose's Turn. Crom is one of cabaret's most consistently funny songwriters and he doesn't disappoint in this shotgun blast of hilarity, aimed at everything from Winona Ryder to Botox. Many of his songs are built around one joke each, but he spins them so well that they come across like the smartass Saturday Night Live skits of yesteryear. Lightweight numbers like "Lesbian Madness" and "Getting Felt Up at the Airport" comically comment on a society in transition, while Crom's more complex songs have bite -- for example, "Sitting in the Dark," which skewers ultra-liberals who fight the power companies in California. Also part of the program are the much-admired "Denial" and the truly nutty and inspired "Sondheim's Oklahoma," both of which have established a following from their performance in earlier shows.
The cast of four does the material proud: John Flynn, Christopher Regan, Deb Spielman, and Eadie Scott are individually effective and work comic wonders as an ensemble. John McMahon provides lively musical direction and is notably energetic at the piano. The show's producer and director, Collette Black, gives the piece a remarkable zest; there's barely time to catch your breath from laughing at one number before the next one has started. This is, in fact, the most well directed revue we've seen in a very long time.
Rick Crom's What in the World?! continues Upstairs at Rose's Turn on Saturday, December 28 at 7pm before switching to Monday nights at 7pm in January.
[More cabaret reviews by the Siegels can be found at www.cabarethotlineonline.com]