Christine Aziz: Tea with Bea: A Tribute to Beatrice Lillie

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Christine Aziz

Tea with Bea: A Tribute to Beatrice Lillie

The Duplex, NYC, February 9th, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Christine Aziz appeared as Beatrice Lillie, also affectionately known as Lady Peel, for a night of frolic and fun at The Duplex. Simultaneously an obscure and yet obvious choice for a tribute, this once “funniest woman in the world” who gained fame from the teens and 1920s, looks strikingly similar to the young Aziz who portrayed her astutely.

Aziz kept up a good pace and volume as she transitioned through song bits and long monologues, hitting positive notes during the fun “There Are Fairies at the Bottom of Our Garden” (Rose Fyleman/Liza Lehmann).

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She really displayed her love for the character of Lady Peel, though, as she sipped tea and told stories of meeting and working with “French theatrical impresario” Andre Charlot, who discovered Lillie’s talent and proceeded over the years to hire and fire her a plurality of times.

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But not for playing hooky!

Aziz’s ability to get into the character of this fervent femme of the ’20s set up a fabulous performance of “I Went to a Marvelous Party” by Noël Coward, where she threw her arms up and beamed, “I’ve just been to a marvelous party!” It also made her impressions of “guest stars” Tallulah Bankhead and Ethel Merman all the more, well, impressive. Throwing her voice and donning separate wigs, she sang “That Old Black Magic” (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer) as Bankhead and “There’s No Business Like Show Business” (Irving Berlin) as Merman.  And for a larger-than-life character like Lillie, that was certainly the case.

Aziz spun Lillie’s tale of woe well. In between blackish comedy originals, crafted by Aziz and music director/pianist Leeran Raphaely, such as “Dick in the Hole,” and Lillie’s own standbys, she described how show business seemed to the only part of Lillie’s life that worked. Bravo!

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