I have to admit, as a reviewer for this show, I am a little biased. I have been waiting several years for Lady Rizo (nee Amelia Zirin-Brown) to return to Melbourne, after thoroughly enjoying her performance in the Melbourne Cabaret Festival in 2013. Appearing as part of a comedy festival is a step outside her usual modus operandi, but wit and cutting humour is a large part of her show, so it is not such a big departure after all.
Lady Rizo’s current show has a more serious underlying message and a strong political bent, not surprisingly in the current political climate in The United States. While the official title of her show is Red, White and Indigo, she jokingly referred to it as her ‘Apology’ tour. The show contains a healthy dose of anti-Trump sentiment (hence the apology!), but despite the obvious distress regarding the current governments policies, there was also a lot of hope. Hope for the strength being displayed in the women’s movement, hope that the pendulum of world politics will soon swing the other way and a clearly expressed understanding that her audience shares these concerns and hopes, and can make a difference through their own actions.
Accompanying this serious message, there was also a lot of laughs, and a healthy serving of Lady Rizo’s amazing vocal talents, including two songs from her new Album. Her shows (and albums) are a mixture of original songs, such as ‘Hit of You’, and covers of existing songs performed in her own unique style. ‘Red, White and Indigo’ started with an unusual rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and ended with a variation of Nina Simone’s ‘Sinner Man’. Lady Rizo is a vocal powerhouse. An amazing belter, with impressive lung capacity – she can hold an extended note until you are starting to feel lightheaded in sympathy! While she is extremely funny and can undoubtedly hold her own in a comedy festival, ultimately it is the quality of her voice that will make you a fan. The only minor criticism I could comment on may be that the lyrics are sometimes hard to understand. This may be due to a combination of accent, vocal style and the speed of some of the numbers, but it does not diminish the audience’s enjoyment of the performance.
Lady Rizo’s performance was full of energy and exuberance and provides visual highlights as well as vocal ones. She uses her whole body to express her emotions and engage with the audience, and costumes herself in stunning evening gowns, as should be expected from a self-professed Diva! Her performance once again contained a costume change behind a backlit curtain, which gave her the opportunity to showcase two sparkling gowns in a show with no interval.
Lady Rizo was supported by three local musicians; Hugh Harvey playing drums, Tamara Murphy playing bass and Fran Swinn on guitar. They did an excellent job. The show was also well lit, producing a range of effects to suit the mood of each aspect of the performance. The Famous Spiegeltent brings its own character and atmosphere, which was well suited to the intimate style of Lady Rizo’s performance.
Despite calling herself a Diva, Lady Rizo does not take herself too seriously. Her performance contains several laughs at her own expense, including with her vocals, and that is just another way that she draws the audience in and makes the performance more personal.
Last night was particularly intimate, with a surprisingly small audience. This in no way affected the potency of Lady Rizo’s performance, or the rousing response of the audience. I would strongly advise readers to get yourselves a ticket and fill up the Spiegeltent for an amazing night of humour and dramatic vocal performance.