Actress-writer Lisa Faith Phillips offers comic and bittersweet advice on romance and relationships by tapping the experts in 7-1/2 Habits of Highly Effective Mistresses, her new cabaret show playing consecutive Fridays in New York City April 14-28.
Exploring how the habits of successful mistresses can aid any relationship, Phillips uses songs by Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, the Gershwins, Frank Loesser and Jule Styne others to make her points. Musical director Ellen Mandel's haunting ballad, "Don't Ask Why," is also featured in the evening.
The show plays 7 PM April 14, 21 and 28 at the Cornelia Street Cafe Downstairs in Greenwich Village.
"It's definitely comic but as I worked on the show there were so many touching songs I wanted to do that fell into the area of love, trust, betrayal," Phillips told Playbill On-Line. The still developing show takes the form of a self-help lecture vaguely inspired by the book, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People."
The conclusion she comes to in the show, she says, may be that it's best to be a single woman having and affair with a single man. When she started telling people about the new show they opened up to her and shared their stories about having affairs, Phillips said. She's even injected some of her own life in the show, like the time she helped pay for graduate school (she studied economics) by being a stripper.
Phillips' last play, The All-Nude College-Girl Revue, played a sold out run at Soho's Synchronicity Space before moving to The Samuel Beckett Theater for an extended run in 1997.
Phillips has been a participating artist at The Cherry Lane Theater, Alice's Fourth Floor and a member of Manhattan Punch Line's Comedy Corp in New York as well as in theatre companies in London, Barcelona and Findlay, OH. She has performed stand-up and one-woman shows at such venues as The Comic Strip, Catch a Rising Star, Cornelia Street Cafe, The Wah-Wah Hut and CBGB's Gallery. She has also sung with the Time Warner choir for four years. Her first play, At All Times, was produced at Alice's Fourth Floor in 1993. It went on to open the Director's Project Festival at Synchronicity Space in 1994 and was given a staged reading at The Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles in 1995.
Mandel is the resident composer at New York's Jean Cocteau Repertory. She has scored five films, created music for dance and cabaret, and performs frequently with her jazz quintet. Mandel's music can currently be heard in Medea at the Jean Cocteau Rep and was recently featured in The Voysey Inheritance at the Mint Theatre. A CD of her theatre music, "Every Play's an Opera" (Brite Records), was released in January 2000.
Tickets are $15. Cornelia Street Cafe Downstairs is at 29 Cornelia Street (between Bleecker Street and West 4th, off of Sixth Avenue).
For reservations, call (212) 414-7777.
-- By Kenneth Jones