Ben Moss & Peter Smith

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Ben Moss & Peter Smith

The Duplex, NYC, December 16, 2017

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Ben Ross & Peter Smith
Photo: Sandy Honig

Papers strewn all around and the piano moved to the center of the stage, when the lights went up and Peter Smith and Ben Moss drew us in with a stunning “Walk on Water” (Marshall Mathers/Holly Hafermann/Miquel Sijbers), it looked like we had just stepped into the mad lab of two genius songwriters. Had we? Moss certainly was like the Watson to Smith’s Holmes as Smith strutted across the stage in heeled boots and a skirt with a suit jacket, lamenting about a vocal teaching career at NYU.

Moss sang well at the piano, completing the Beyoncé parts of “Walk on Water,” but fast-forwarding to Smith’s dominating performance of “The Singer” by Walter Marks, we saw the flashes of brilliance that seemed destined to ooze out of Smith’s confidence. It certainly backed up a funny moment early in the show when Smith, sitting at the piano “for a change,” challenged Moss to sing the highest notes.

Moss had his moment, too, as he tested out a stand-up comedy routine. It was all right, featuring a joke that an old friend named Nicole got married to a Pillsbury and “came into some dough.” Despite Moss’ confidence and poise in delivery, Smith gave him a hard time, which the duo used to set up bringing an alternate pianist, Henry Koperski, onto the stage. Koperski’s ability to work with varied performers and a variety of music was once again on display at The Duplex!

This set up the highlight of the night, which included guest Larry Owens joining for “Up the Ladder to the Roof” (Frank Wilson/Vincent DiMirco)—simply a fantastic rendition of this classic. I especially loved how Smith cracked the façade of disinterested genius to smirk. Brilliant fun. Looking forward to joining their mad lab again.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see