Turner Centre, 43 Cobham Road, Kerikeri

06/04/2017 - 06/04/2017

Central Lakes Trust Crystal Palace, Wanaka

08/04/2017 - 10/04/2017

Festival of Colour 2017

UPSURGE Bay of Islands Festival 2017

Production Details


It’s rumoured that she is the product of a night of unrestrained indulgence between Peggy Lee, Mel Brooks, Nina Simone, Dean Martin and Janis Joplin, but the truth is Lady Rizo was raised by theatrical gypsies with the highest show-business ethics.

When she almost looked of age she rebelled against the comforting, unscrubbed, rustic life and set out for a world of metropolitan sophisticates. She exploded on to the New York stage with a powerful voice and stage charisma that continues to win her audiences worldwide.

She won her first Grammy on a duet with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Has sung and recorded with Moby. She was MC at New York hotspot The Darby where she has entertained music luminaries like the late Prince, Beyonce & Jay-Z. As a chanteuse and comedienne Lady Rizo revives the cabaret genre with old school diva imagery and a modern voice. Luscious vocals, irrefutable glamour and piercing wit – come and be seduced by New York’s finest chanteuse.

If you only see one cabaret show this year, see Lady Rizo. TIME OUT LONDON

SENSATIONAL… A fierce but kind-hearted fusion of comedy, burlesque, performance art and rock’n’roll. THE NEW YORK TIMES

Kooky, sexy, brilliant. THE SCOTSMAN

UPSURGE Bay of Islands Festival 2017

The Turner Centre, Kerikeri
Thursday 6 April, 7.30 pm
75 mins no interval
EARLY $42 – FULL $46
plus service fee

Festival of Colour 2017

“Cabaret Superstar” (NY Magazine) Lady Rizo was born to theatrical gypsies on the cold northern beaches of the Pacific Northwest but soon made her way to the Big Apple with a voice that has been likened to a mix of Peggy Lee, Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin.

Saturday 8 April, 8.30pm
Monday 10 April, 7.00pm


Central Lakes Trust Crystal Palace



Theatre , Performance Art , Cabaret , Burlesque ,

Joyous, kind-hearted, hilarious, naughty, adorable and political

Review by Pip Harker 12th Apr 2017

Expectation breeds disappointment, so the Buddhists say.  That given, I am a little nervous as I take my seat at the Crystal Palace (the perfect cabaret venue) to see “the toast of the New York cabaret scene”.  Expectation is palpable.

The stage backdrop is an American flag of sorts. The musicians arrive on stage with usual musician humility: guitarist and musical director of the show Yair Evnine and Auckland drummer Alistair Deverick – drummer for Neil Finn and Lawrence of Arabia, recruited for the NZ shows. Both outstanding musicians. 

From her first sparkly appearance, as she walks in through the audience, we are intrigued.  Singing a mash-up of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘Inner City Blues’ she arrives on stage.  Clearly the gal can sing. From a delicate purr to a full-out growl she has the chops.  But singing is just singing unless you sing right down to your toes.  And she does.  As she says, a chanteuse is someone “who brings songs to life!” This is what makes The Lady stand-out as a singer – the charisma and life she brings to the songs.  She got soul! 

“I had a hippie up-bringing … I rebelled with glamour.”

And so the banter begins, and we fall harder as she apologises for being American, cracks many Trump jokes, tells stories and makes us laugh and laugh again.  Lady Rizo is extremely likeable, personable and – despite a very slick act – talks to us like we’re new friends just chatting.  This is my sweet, funny, feisty, flirty, political, Jewish friend from New York.  You really should meet her.

There is far more talking than songs throughout the show and that is fine as the talking is extremely entertaining.  Lots of audience participation keeps us on our toes, whether it be choosing someone to dance with, play a game with (the prize a kiss), sing a line in a song or responding to her questions. 

A highlight is a half-time costume change, where she takes a woman behind the ‘flag’ to help her change.  Her assistant actually helps her change and she chats to the audience member to entertain us. They are cunningly lit from behind to add interest and, of course, she grabs the opportunity to do a saucy shadow trick. 

“I humbly want to share something with you … well … as humble as a person under a spotlight in a sparkly dress with a microphone can be.”

She emerges with another sparkly glamorous outfit on and proceeds to [spoiler averted], just for our amusement it seems, and amused we are.  At this point the Lady could do just about anything and we we’ll love it.  She is gorgeous and sexy and everything she does is larger than life. Just running her hand up the microphone stand seems to take on a sensuality we wouldn’t have thought possible.  Blush.

Sprinkled throughout the 1 1/2 hour show are some catchy, original songs.  Other cover songs given fabulous new life were D’Angelo’s ‘Sh*t, Damn, Motherf*cker’, ‘Que Sera Sera’ and, a highlight for many, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Anthem’.  For this she comes out into the middle of the audience, stands on a chair to become the Statue of Liberty, sending a message of hope to the USA in these dark times. 

Some internet stalking tells me that Amelia Zirin-Brown has been performing as Lady Rizo since 2004, has won various impressive awards and has a Ted Talk called Chanteuse Superstar. 

This is a very liberal show, with plenty of swearing and sexual innuendo throughout so I do wonder how the more conservative, National-voting audience members are coping …

She raves about Wanaka, she flatters New Zealanders, she spreads “good news” snippets about positive things happening in the world; she laughs with us, she shares her joys and sorrows and she flirts.  She charms our socks off. 

Believe the hype.  Lady Rizo,  “entertainer, dream maker, chanteuse, superstar”, is every bit as joyous, kind-hearted, hilarious, naughty and adorable as they say she is.  You really must meet her.


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Playful, saucy, suggestive, and hard-edged and political

Review by Alan Scott 07th Apr 2017

This cabaret show, Indigo Child, is fairly late starting. When it finally commences – with a drummer stage left and a guitarist stage right playing the opening bars of a tune you do not recognise and, at centre stage, a simple screen with an upside down version of the Stars and Stripes – you wonder what to expect as you wait for Lady Rizo’s entrance.

Looking every inch the cabaret diva with glitzy dress and makeup, she takes us all totally by surprise, as she makes her way to the stage, by delivering her own powerful, soaring rendition of America’s national anthem, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’.

My, what an opener. The anthem is mashed up with, I think, ‘Inner City Blues’, giving it a richly ironic slant that indicates where the night is heading. Her voice fills the auditorium; her hands, face and body live out the song; her notes are held so long you feel she might faint from lack of oxygen.  

And then, song over, she starts the patter. In turns funny, corny, witty and astutely observant, she tells us how, in the year of Trump, she has to apologise for being an American. She refuses to say his name, calling him Cinnamon Hitler and the Manchurian Candida. Indeed, we are promised that if she does utter the awful words, “Donald Trump”, one of us can come up on stage and spank her bottom. We live in hope for an hour and a half until it finally happens. 

That, in a nutshell, sums up Lady Rizo’s charm. She is playful, saucy and suggestive, on the one hand, and hard-edged and political, on the other. She exudes warmth and connects and engages with the audience in the way all the best performers do. Indeed, there is a deal of interaction with the punters, and one of them, Bruce by name, even goes behind the backlit screen with her while she changes her dress. Oh lucky man, a number of people are thinking, until it gets personal and she asks him where he lost his virginity.

It is all good fun but it never gets in the way of the serious business which is her matchless delivery of song. And if the song can emphasise or amplify a social or political point that she is making, then so much the better.

After talking about the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, the right to bear arms, and about Americans’ obsession with the gun, she performs a stunning interpretation of D’Angelo’s song: ‘Shit, Damn, Motherfucker’. It is all too easy, as a reviewer, to be caught up in the moment of a performance and exaggerate its quality. In all truth, though, I have to say that when Lady Rizo knocks out a song, she is a hard one to beat.

There are a number of songs, many her own compositions, which intersperse her amusing and witty ramblings. However delightful is the glamour and glitz, and however entertaining the fun and games, it is the songs that standout. If the opening number is a stunner, the final song, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Anthem’, raises the show to another level.

In the midst of the song, she climbs on to a spare seat in the theatre and recites Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, ‘New Colossus’, lines from which are inscribed on a plaque at the Statue of Liberty. Holding up her microphone as a torch, she finishes the song without amplification. It is a perfect end to a consummate performance. 


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