Ancram, N.Y. — The Hudson Valley (and beyond)’s rapidly expanding band of devotees of Jeff Mousseau and Paul Ricciardi’s Ancram Opera House packed the old grange hall Sunday night (July 8) for an exuberant, often outrageous standing room-only performance of chanteuse/ comedian/performance artist Lady Rizo.
The crowd showed up, still in a July 4 mood, ready to embrace her “Red. White and Indigo” patriotism show. Lady Rizo opened with a stunning, brooding interpretation of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which segued back and forth to early-1970s Black R&B.
The boys on drums, guitar and bass kept pace (not an easy job) for almost 90 minutes as the Lady paraded (think diva version of Independence Day parade marshal crossed with post-Yippie anarchist) through commentary on #MeToo, Russia, immigration, growing up with hippie parents (“I rebelled with glamour”), monogamy (new to her) and motherhood (ditto).
For an audience participation kissing game, she plucked a good sport from the crowd, who happened to be a gay husband and who gave her a run for her money: She needed new makeup after the face mash from the surprise crusher.
Glamour restored — “glitter is the herpes of cabaret” — the Lady took to center of the hall, with the house dark, lit with audience iPhones, to play Statue of Liberty, handheld mike in arm held high as torch and all. Yes, in taking in the tired, the poor and the weary, there can be joy. Lady Rizo works a song portfolio from Nina Simone to Leonard Cohen with a set of pipes that would make both Janis Joplin and Donna Summer be sure she never opened for them — she’d be too good. She’s off next to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, exporting her bold and brazen brand of patriotism. God bless America. Eat your heart out, Kate Smith.