BWW Reviews: Irreverent TORI SCOTT Blows Audiences Away With Her Roaring Pipes at Joe's Pub
"I need a moment to lower your expectations.
You are not going to leave here inspired. This show is not about feelings or love . . . because I can't . . . "
Tori Scott may or may not be able to love. But do not lower your expectations, for what she can unquestionably do is put on a tightly crafted, fast-paced cabaret show, driven by her prodigious voice and her mirthful, irreverent storytelling. In her new cabaret show Thirsty! (which returns to Joe's Pub for a second show on June 1 at 9:30), Scott regales the audience with tales of a young(ish) single woman living in New York City as an aspiring musical theater performer, whose antics tend to run toward the debauched, since she has "no moral compass and [loves] being social."
Scott, named Time Out New York's Top Ten Cabaret Artist of 2013, has graced the stages of Joe's Pub, 54 Below, the Laurie Beechman, the Metropolitan Room, and every gay bar on the Eastern Seaboard. As an actress, she's counted to 20 as a singing garbage woman on Sesame Street and dubbed the vocals of a singing hooker on HBO's Cathouse: The Musical.
Scott's understanding of musicals is apparent in her ability to find songs--often fired off in a medley, keeping things lively--which comment wryly on a given story. For example, she tells the story of a subway "romance"--with a homeless man masturbating in her general direction--appealing for his lack of artifice ("No games, no dinner, no teeth")--while singing a show-stopping mash up of "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart" and "The Trolley Song" (see video of Scott performing the number at Joe's Pub in 2013). The audience roared when she sang, "He scared me half to death," which made me wonder if non-New York City audiences get it as deeply as we all did. We know that homeless guy. And he is scary. And, I told you she was debauched and irreverent.
Scott has enlisted the talents of many luminaries, both on stage and off. Her band is an amalgam of veterans, led by Musical Director/arranger Jesse Kissel (The Visit), and includes Mat Fieldes (Matilda The Musical) on electric bass and Dan Weiner (Stomp, Holler if Ya Hear Me) on drums. She also has her "Regrets," two backing vocalists who are wonderful singers, and also serve as a fab horn section. Scott created the show with longtime collaborator Adam Hetrick. Seth Sklar-Heyn (Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables) directs and choreography is by Jonathan Warren (Wicked).
Between laments of being rejected as an egg donor (while belting Natural Woman followed by Be My Baby), listing what she's left behind in cabs on drunken evenings (a number of wallets and cellphones along with her dignity and gag reflex), to a detailed description of doing poppers while smoking cigarettes at a rooftop party, you can't help but love the lack of shame in Scott's exuberant adventures. Her voice can seemingly do anything--from the finest Boswell sisters-like harmonies on an arrangement of Beyonce's I Want You to the huge 1980s dance party version of Patti Smith's Because the Night. Her sound filled every nook and cranny of the house, transforming Joe's Pub into a pulsating disco. Sometimes I almost felt a need for refuge, but I also reveled in Scott's joyful ability to let loose and allow herself to roar with abandon. In fact, she also sings Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman (Hear Me Roar)" in this show. We hear you, lady, and it's a powerful sound. It's the sound of someone who's not afraid to show you just how human she is, while her super-human pipes blow you away.