Thursday, May 17, 2012

Triumphant Baby: The Songs of Iconis and Maddock

Lorinda Lisitza is amazing. And she was born to sing the songs of Joe Iconis and Robert Maddock, who are pretty darn amazing themselves.

In Triumphant Baby: The Songs of Iconis and Maddock, the Nightlife Award-winning Lisitza sings thirteen Iconis-Maddock songs, and it is no exaggeration to say that each is a full and wonderful one-act play. Lisitza is not only a kick-ass singer with an extraordinary range (both vocally and stylistically), but she is also a top-notch actor who completely inhabits each song. During Triumphant Baby, she is sad, funny, sly, rueful, crazy, suicidal, sweet, heartbroken, heartbreaking, and, yes, triumphant. With her talent, red hair, and large, attractive features, Lisitza belongs on stage. Y'know, like in a musical on Broadway. (Years ago, I saw her in Brecht and Weill's Happy End at Theatre Ten Ten, and I promise you, she is the real thing.)

Before Triumphant Baby, I was not familiar with the work of Iconis and Maddock, and all I can say is, shame on me! Composer Iconis is comfortable in any and every genre. His songs are melodic and inviting but never cliche. His arrangements beautifully support the meaning and the feeling of each song. Maddock's lyrics are some of the best I've heard in years. He is fond of rhyming across three lines, and the third rhyme is often unexpected, funny, and smart. He is also master of the simple, catchy, memorable phrase, as in "We might not get to heaven but I'm always up for hell" (from the energetic and funny "Just as Long as You and I Are in Cahoots") and "If I can't be a rising star, I'll be the kind that falls" (from the wistful "The Kind That Falls"). Iconis and Maddock also write about twarted passion ("Eddie Got a Color T.V."), loss ("Camden County Penitentiary"), enthusiastic murderers ("Yolanda at the Bottom of the Stairs"), and, well, everything.

Triumphant Baby features a wonderful band: Iconis himself on piano, happily bouncing around; Mike Pettry on guitar, mandolin, and melodica; Matt Wigton on double bass; and Tanya Holt and Liz Lark Brown on vocals.

If you enjoy excellent cabaret performances, see this show. If you enjoy excellent Broadway performances, see this show. If you enjoy excellent country performances, see this show. If you want to say, "I knew them when," see this show. (Two performances left, May 19 and 20, at the Metropolitan Room.)

(center, press ticket)


Cameron Kelsall said...

I, too, have fond memories of randomly catching her amazing performance in HAPPY END. I was living across the street at the time and kind of wandered over, and I'm so glad I did. She IS the real deal.

Wendy Caster said...

I'm so glad you got to see her!