Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cabaret review - Maxine Lapiduss Live

On Sunday January 30 comedienne/singer Maxine Lapiduss brought a new show to Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's  and received what few performers ever do in LA cabaret - a thunderous heartfelt standing ovation. This is one funny lady who can sing up a storm and make you laugh until your pants split. What an entertainer! Backed by an eight-piece orchestra under the musical direction of  wonderful Michael Orland, Lapiduss wowed the SRO room with her nonstop hilarious comedy about life in LA, the fear of living and the need to change. Funny, yes, and with the delivery of a caring yet sarcastic next-door neighbor, she is down-to-earth, sassy and easy to like.

In a good theatrical musical show, songs should further the story along, and Lapiduss' set fit the bill. Most of her anecdotes were followed by original and standard tunes that heightened her theme of transition in a sensible as well as entertaining fashion. Highly entertaining, indeed, as she changed many of the traditional lyrics to suit her devilish purpose. Highlights included: Billie Holliday's "Getting Some Fun Out of Life", "Under My Skin", a beautifully uncluttered "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter",  Harold Arlen's lesser known but moving "As Long As I Live", sung lovingly to her 19 year partner Hillary and her encore "The Man I Love". Many of these songs like the latter were performed with vibrantly new and exciting arrangements by Steve Orich. Her opener "Mackie's Back" was a delicious sendup of her return based on Macheath of  "Mack the Knife" fame. "Scared About Life Without Oprah", which she co-wrote will Allee Willis, one of the composers of  the musical The Color Purple was a gloriously funny original, bemoaning Oprah's soon-to-be departure from the airwaves. Another engaging original by Cynthia Carle was "Shitty Angels", which most unlucky souls can surely relate to. There was also a deliriously funny "That's the Way We Do It in LA" as she talked about traffic tie-ups and driving 78 miles out of the way in an attempt to simply drive a short distance to the Arclight Cinema on Sunset.
Fun stories included tips on dieting, why you should never disclose personal info to your maid, why gays should reconsider the marriage commitment and the horrors of  e-mail and selling on e-bay. As she verged on political incorrectness, her audience ate it up and applauded all the more, as with a catchier version of "Don't Play Around with Love" from 1953 retitled "Don't Fuck Around with Love". Comics can get away with just about anything if they know how to do it well; Lapiduss is one of those pros.

This was a terrific evening of cabaret, perfect for a theatre setting as well, made unforgettable by the sensational comedic artistry of Maxine Lapiduss and those 8 fantastic backup musicians. Along with Michael Orland at piano: on bongos, Fausto Cuevas; drums, Eli Hludzik; bass, Joel Hamilton; trumpet, Harry Kim; sax and reeds, Jon Kip; trombone, Dave Stout; and on accordian, Bill Brendle.                                   

Don't wait another six years! Come back real soon!!

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