By Myra Chanin
A more then reasonable facsimile of Liza! with a Z (who in street clothes answers to the name of actor/writer Rick Skye) has returned to Don’t Tell Mama as the host of her monthly variety show, Bazaaz! with three A’s, accompanied by working hips, kneecaps and the Kit Kat Boyz, a trio of bare-chested sequined laddies! And Manhattan is a better place for it.
For many years Rick Skye has been a New York cabaret scene prime player. He’s won many trophies, the most recent being the 2017 MAC Award for Best Impersonation for his Liza.
However, Rick has many other voices up his throat. He was the interlocutor, voice and writer of an entirely new act for the revived saucy diva Madame in It’s Madame with an E. His Youtube series, Celebritease features material he’s written for his impersonations of Elaine Stritch, Judy Garland, Tallulah Bankhead and Patricia Neal. His “Flip Side of Neil Sedaka” was an international success and featured the songs on the B-sides of Sedaka’s famous hit records, but included a medley of Sedaka’s A-side hits tied together by Skye’s comedy.
The first Bazaaz! A Sequined Variety was unveiled during Thanksgiving week-end at Don’t Tell Mama and featured Rick’s heralded impersonation of Liza, him actually singing in his own voice, and him interacting with two great guest performers. But first came the what else would you expect but the Kit Kat Boyz: Ryan Lind, Matheus Ting and David Ballard flashing their photo-shopped abs. In glittering top hats, they looked like they were preparing to march with a fancy dress club in Philadelphia’s Annual Mummers Parade.
Then Liza appeared, out of breath and drinking a whole bottle of could’ve been water, could’ve been something stronger. Among her noteworthy opening numbers, she sang a song written by Kay Thompson, her godmother and the creator of The Plaza’s Eloise, who taught her the lyrics while her less talented, more neglected sister, Lorna Luft “was sitting waiting in the other room.” One of the remarks in Liza’s rewrite of Thompson’s was Liza’s description of her Judy’s treatment of men: “she treats them like tissues, blows them and throws them away.” Liza’s interaction with men as a calming influence on her nerves was demonstrated by Liza and Matheus Ting clad in trousers and excessively stretchy suspenders as Liza’s “Arthur in the Afternoon.”.
Her first guest, The Legendary Sidney Myer, in a gold and black glittering shirt, gave Liza a few minutes to catch her breath while he sang two up-tempo songs from his oeuvre: “Jamboree Jones,” and the immortal “Good Advice.” Sidney was accompanied by Lee Squared’s Liberace, David Maiocco, minus wig and cape but with all 15 of his fingers.
Liza returned, still out of breath. What could she be doing in the green room! She introduced her second guest Barbra Streisand, and allowed Barbra to introduced her first number, “The Way We Were,” with comments like “I got the Grammys and sometimes I’m thinner,” before revealing that both her past and present husbands are presently starring in hit TV shows. When Liza returned, splendid in a red sequin bare shoulder number, the two icons sang their famous duet: “Get Happy” and “Happy Days Are Here Again,” which had the packed showroom up and cheering.
As I was leaving I asked Barbra if Elliott Gould, the first Mr. Streisand, was still paying her alimony. She sadly replied in the negative. I told her she should have used my attorney, Bernie.
Pappy, who played Lisa’s orchestra and back-up singers was undertaken by the very able Ricky Ritzel.
December being the merriest month, we’re being treated to two holiday performances of Bazaaz! at Don’t Tell Mama.
On Friday, December 29th at 7:00pm, Liza will be joined by the brilliant musical comedy of Rick Crom and the thrilling song stylings of Pop-Jazz vocalist Karen Wyman plus the ever lovely Kit Kat Boyz and Ricky Ritzel in the Orchestra Pit.
On Sunday, December 31st at 9:30 Liza hosts a New Year’s Eve Dinner show where Liza’s guests include Comic Nancy Witter sharing her Cathoholic family sagas and Billy Lykken displaying his often heartbroken, but never bitter, sequined alter ego whose eccentricities and self-destructive behavior are overshadowed by an all-consuming need to please the faithful masses.
Don’t Tell Mama, 343 W. 46th St., (212) 757-0788