The lights dim in the Gardenia Restaurant and Lounge, a longstanding venue for cabaret in Los Angeles, as singer/actress Gia Mora takes the stage. Clad in a slinky cocktail dress, her auburn hair pulled back and augmented with a fetching fall, she launches right into her first number. And that's when you realize this isn't your everyday cabaret show:
I've learned that E=mc<2>
And when you're in love, it feels like falling
Faster than the speed of light.
In matters of a pair
It's best to stay hip to the square...
Gia Mora's new show is called "Einstein's Girl" ("the science of love -- theoretically speaking"), exploring old-fashioned romance in the digital era, marked by snappy patter in between songs and lyrics peppered with allusions to George Lemaitre, cosmic inflation, singularities and of course, relativity and Albert Einstein, a.k.a. "Albie."
Mora is well-known in the Washington DC theater community, having racked up several Helen Hayes Award nominations. (Any woman whose resume includes stage combat skills -- unarmed, knife, rapier and dagger, smallsword, firearms -- has my respect.) She's performed at the Kennedy Center and even at the White House in 2008.
She also sings jazz and blues; the Washington Post once said she "performs with the effervescence of champagne," and that bubbly energy was on full display at Thursday night's show, along with her impressive four-octave range and an unapologetic sex appeal. (No cabaret show is complete without a soupcon of innuendo, especially one that celebrates love, sex, heartbreak and science all in one.)
The show was a quirky mix of classic cabaret fare -- her version of "Stardust" made Jen-Luc Piquant all verklempt -- with irreverent contemporary tunes ("I Google You" and "The Facebook Song"), a jazzy rendition of "Blinded Me With Science," and some playful original fare, like "March of the Quarks," set to the tune of Mozart's "March of the Turks":
And the primeval atom bloomed with infinite inflation
And the baryon number defied rules of conservation
And the quark-gluon plasma had begun its transformation
And I have so much knowledge I should write a dissertation....
The Divine Miz Mora (@Miz_Mora on Twitter) is in good company when it comes to science, music, and cabaret; others who've made their mark in this arena over the years include Lynda Williams (a.k.a. the "Physics Chanteuse"), German physicist and cabaret artist Vince Ebert, and Italian astrophysicist and recording artist Fiorella Terenzi (best known for taking recordings of the radio waves emitting from galaxies and turning them into music).
So, you know, it's officially a "thing." And Mora makes that thing her own. Personally I love the fact that Mora is not, herself, a scientist, and yet dares to dabble anyway, bringing her own light-hearted touch to some heavy ideas -- along with a lot of skill and performance savvy gleaned from her years of stage experience. By her own admission she's a "wanna-be theoretical physicist." With a killer set of pipes.