Liz Rubino brings cabaret show home Under the covers
By LORRAINE WARDLE
Professional singer and recording artist Liz Rubino considers herself a bit of a gypsy these days.
With a musical-theater studio in Youngstown, a drama therapy practice in New York City and performances all over the country, Rubino hasn’t stayed in one place for a while. But she always comes back to Youngstown, her hometown and the place where she started her career.
On Friday evening, Rubino will be at Stambaugh Auditorium’s elegant Christman Room for a show that will mark the debut of her second album, “Woman Under the Covers.” It will be an intimate, cabaret-style performance of hits traditionally sung by men, including Bing Crosby, Bob Seger, Michael Jackson and others.
When asked about this choice, Rubino said, “When I was a kid, my dad used to encourage me to sing opposite-gender cover tunes because you can’t compare a female voice to a male voice, so the song takes on an almost new life of its own.
“He was right. I just didn’t listen back then.”
Eventually, Rubino did take her father’s advice to heart.
“As I grew older, I began to impart that wisdom on my students as I saw the trends in pop culture and in New York heading toward those spaces, so it was only natural that I would want to do a show of my own someday that featured traditionally male songs.”
Rubino’s live show, also titled “Woman Under the Covers,” debuted last year in New York City’s Metropolitan Room to critical acclaim.
Rubino then worked for a year in the studio with Jack Ciarniello of Take Note Productions to turn the show into an album.
At Friday’s show, Ciarniello will accompany Rubino on piano, along with musicians David DePanicis, Abby Gross, Roger Lewis and Vincent Vivacqua, plus back-up singers Nikita Jones and Anne Marie Setting.
Rubino says the provocative title for her show and album has several meanings. It was suggested in part by John Paul Boukis, her partner in the performing duo Suave and the Boner. While brainstorming the idea of a spy-themed cabaret, he thought of “Woman Under Cover.” But then, Rubino says, “I realized I wasn’t undercover, but it is my voice under the cover songs, and that voice happens to be a woman, so it appealed to the sultry feel of an intimate cabaret.”
Rubino also dedicated the first New York show to the LGBTQ youth she worked with, many of whom “struggled daily to live authentically without ducking under cover. ... I wanted them to know that their light needs to shine brightly, and one way to achieve that is through music.”