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Lady Rizo - Unescorted

Festivals

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Audience members who have seen Lady Rizo perform before – perhaps at one of her previous Adelaide Cabaret Festival shows – will be familiar with her powerful voice, engaging stage presence, witty repartee and stylish elegance.

This singer from the US state of Oregon, via New York City, is the winner of many cabaret awards and a superstar of the genre – but there is a new addition (well, almost) in 2015.

As she entered the Space Theatre stage in silhouette from a cleverly backlit set of on-stage screens, it was quickly obvious the Lady is pregnant.

Having a half-Jewish/half-Australian baby (the daddy is her Australian lighting guy) on the way means that Rizo’s already amazing arsenal of cabaret skills has a new subject with which to extract laughter and feelings of warmth from her audience.  She does this skilfully without ever overdoing it or delving into too much sentimentality.

Lady Rizo.

Lady Rizo.

Lady Rizo’s voice impresses in a tasty selection of covers and original tunes co-written with guitarist/musical director Yair Evnine.  The standouts, among a very high-quality set, include original tune “Domenica”, a love song about living with her untamed side.  We were also treated to a gorgeous version of Cole Porter’s classic “Love for Sale”, which contrasted nicely with the more contemporary “I Google You” (Google it yourself – there’s a version on YouTube).

This Lady has a quality set of pipes, but she is also much more than a chanteuse.  Her humour, sensuality and often self-mocking on-stage antics had the audience in stitches on opening night.  There was a very funny encounter with an apple juice martini, a concession to pregnancy, and she enlisted the help of an audience member on all fours to help her hoist her pregnant frame up on to the piano.

Later, female audience member Frankie joined Rizo behind the screens for a “full-monty” costume change, during which the pair shared tales of de-flowering and motherhood, to hilarious effect. This led to a tantalising tale of her early days on cruise ships heading to Alaska, with another Frankie (male) as her less-than-helpful keyboardist.

The mandatory Adelaide observational gags were also included and Rizo handled these better than just about anyone who has come before her.

Then the heels came off and the high-priestess of the Church of Glitter anointed the faithful with handfuls of the sparkly colourful stuff, before closing out the night with a rousing encore of the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody”.

Lady Rizo – Unescorted continues tonight (Thursday) and Friday night at the Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre.

More Adelaide Cabaret Festival stories and reviews here.

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