The lights are dim. Red curtains are draped behind the stage and around the cabaret arena where the black bentwood chairs and
Tables are intimaely lit by softly glowing lamps. To one side is a bar. The scene is set.
All eyes are focused on the stage. The band softly plays a jazz/blues instrumental as an ethereal voice floats through the air. A pure voice of exceptional melodic quality which mesmerises the audience. We hear the voice yet the singer remains unseen.
A flick of a switch and there she is, caught in the spotlight standing at the back of the audience. A dramatic apparition, in a full length, ruffled, white coat, her silver gloves and headpiece glittering in the sudden light.
Lady Rizo certainly knows how to make an entrance!
Her comedic banter with her audience (and it was her audience as she had us all totally entranced} was lighthearted yet thought provoking with a liberal dash of irreverence for the current obsession with political correctness. Her ability to spontaneously interact and connect reflects her talent as a versatile performer and entertainer.
For me, however, the true joy of the evening was her voice. From crystal clear, well rounded high notes strongly projected without the brittle edge so often heard when singers ‘belt out’ a song; to the sultry, smokey tones reminiscent of a 1920’s speak-easy, her control and purity of tone was an auditory joy. Rizo is a performer equally at ease with relating a narrative through her lyrics as she is in experimenting with sound to create a particular mood or emphasis.
Her sassy burlesque change of costume on stage was realised with such authentic charm that the memory resonated well with her final number “Freedom”. There might be a touch of Bette Midler’s zaniness and Dolly Parton’s glitz and glamour in her performance, but make no mistake, Rizo is very much her own woman. A warrior woman who unashamedly comments on and celebrates life and who she is.
Rizo’s final two performances are on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 at Theatre 1, Wharf 3/4 Dawes Point.
Review by Hildegarde Boening