by: Alix Cohen
This May Hurt a Bit, after an original song by the duo, is a unique grab bag of numbers ranging from gothic to goofy. The press release says its “a guided tour of evil and the human psyche” showing “love is still stronger than hate,” a completely elusive message without the note. There’s no question some selections are grizzly. But for two exceptions, these are also obscure and unmelodic. Other choices are infectious fun. Go figure.
The collaborators are both completely different in sound and manner and symbiotic. Lorinda Lisitza is an actress and vocalist with impressive range and control. From folksy soprano to visceral, lower-octave R & B, she shares ready emotion and the ability to communicate. You’d never know the performer’s very cool turn on harmonica is a recently acquired skill.
Ted Stafford makes me nostalgic for the 70s. His sweet voice and no frills acoustic guitar act as balm to Lisitza’s natural force. In Stafford’s hands, evil feels creepy rather than violent. Upbeat ditties are delightful and authentic. Watching him affectionately watch her adds warmth. Harmonies are terrific. Vocal arrangements suit. They riff off one another as if age-old friends. Both are wry.
Three kinds of material are featured in this show: The whimsical, the dark, and classic R & B. “Pierre” (Maurice Sendak/ Carole King) – you’ll never hear this again in cabaret- is entirely captivating with clear enactment of the petulant child. The iconic “When I’m Sixty-Four” is a wink and a smile, more direct a message for lack of “production.” Effective noir numbers include “Reassure Me (Monster)” by the duo “You’re my turtledove/My doctor can assure you I’m a cut above…” which teeters on desperation and the terrific “Bathtub at the Beverly Hills Hotel” (Michael R. Jackson), a well drawn tabloid scenario by another of society’s victims.
Some of the welcome classics are “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” (Smokey Robinson), “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (Bernie Taupin/Elton John), and a marvelous rendition of “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” (L.A. Reid/Babyface) wherein Stafford rubs up against Lisitza’s sassy, satin come on.
Patter is loosey goosey/seemingly mostly ad-libbed and directed at friends. On the whole, the partners create an original and entertaining evening despite cohesion thrown to the wind. (A little more would be welcome next time.)
The Ted & Lo Show: This May Hurt a Bit
Lorinda Lisitza & Ted Stafford
Winner 2013 MAC Award Outstanding Duo
Don’t Tell Mama
May 28; June 6