Lisa Viggiano: Night in the City

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Lisa Viggiano

Night in the City

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, April 24, 2016

Reviewed by Rob Lester for Cabaret Scenes

TO: Lisa Viggiano, sublime singer
FROM: Impressed, grateful reviewer

Welcome back, Ms. Viggiano. OK, I “get” that you took years off to raise those two cute sons sitting in the back of the cabaret room who love you as Mama, but at Don’t Tell Mama, we loved your talent and want you back on stage. Often. I came in predisposed to be knocked out because I have your smashing CD recorded years ago at the same venue. You’re still smashing—even better. I’m glad you were booked and are booked again, but maybe you should WRITE a book of cabaret tips or teach a class because you’ve GOT class and you’re doing everything so right. You’re smart and engage your audience with smart selections: Stevie Wonder’s invigorating “Livin’ for the City”; standards; acing guest accompanist/songwriter Tim Di Pasqua’s emotionally mature, complex material. You broke my heart with those acting pieces, but I forgive you ’cause it felt good in that cabaret catharsis way.
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Your main Musical Director/arranger Jeff Harris is, of course, top of the line as anyone knowing Maureen McGovern’s work knows.
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You’re refreshingly natural onstage, with charisma and grace, no diva attitude. Your voice is a dream to hear, a glorious timbre capturing emotion and truth in its net. I dare say you’re perhaps the only one around now to come close to the magic and openness of the late, much-missed Nancy LaMott who inhabited songs in the most touching of ways, whose sound was not dissimilar to your own. I can’t think of higher cabaret praise. Your sound is strong, never harsh—there’s blue, honeyed gold, silvery—more colors than your kids’ Crayola box, I think. I was knocked out, engaged, and moved. Big time.       

P.S.:  You can break my heart any time.

Rob Lester

2015 is native New Yorker Rob Lester's eighth year as contributing writer, beginning by reviewing a salute to Frank Sinatra, whose recordings have played on his personal soundtrack since the womb. (His Cabaret Scenes Foundation member mom started him with her favorite; like his dad, he became an uber-avid record collector/ fan of the Great American Songbook's great singers and writers.) Soon, he was attending shows, seeking out up-and-comers and already-came-ups, still reading and listening voraciously. He also writes for and, has been cabaret-centric as awards judge, panel member/co-host, and produces benefit/tribute shows, including one for us.