In 7 1/2 Habits of Highly Effective Mistresses Lisa Faith Philiped adopts the persona of "Dr. Faith" and guided the audience (addressed as "Mistresses in Training") though her secret list of ways to steal other women's husbands. With her rhinestone-studded riding crop, red lame cocktail dress, and glitter-encrusted platform shoes, Dr. Faith and her home-wrecking habits are a great idea for an over-the-top drag show. Unfortunately Habits... ISN'T a drag show. Dr. Faith DID do a Marlene Dietrich impression and later led the audience in a sing-along of a Marilyn Monroe song, but Dr. Faith was most assuredly played by pure "XX" chromosome woman Lisa Faith Phillips, who was anything but over the top and had trouble holding the stage all by herself for the 12 songs that make up her show.
Phillips was an adequate singer and chose an eclectic mix of original songs as well as classics and parodies, but her banter with the audience between songs was stiff and obviously scripted. Dr. Faith also introduced the audience to each song with a skit referring to one of her seven-and-a-half habits. Occasionally she hit the mark with one of these skits, such as her advice to fledgling strippers, "Men aren't that picky, just smile." But more often failed dismally with predictable punch lines like, "It used to be that you were expected to get married and have sex with one man for 50 years. Now you're expected to have sex with fifty men in ONE year." Phillips also endeavored to engage the audience in some interactive pieces and badgered them into a singalong version of "Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend," both of which activities yielded mixed results.
Although Phillips did strip out of Dr. Faith's business suit and spend the final few moments of the show in a red lame dress, neither costume was unusually striking. Dr. Faith was a rather understated vamp in need of higher heels and a lower neckline.
Because it was performed in a cabaret, the set mostly comprised a stand that held the titular list of habits. Of course the set was also dominated by the piano. Phillips's accompanist (and occasional straight man) Ellen Mandel more than carried her share of the show.
Perhaps the most glaring problem was that, even though the "Dr. Faith" persona is a husband-stealing vamp, Phillips never really came across as the "Bad Girl" Dr. Faith was supposed to be. Phillips was more of a home-MAKER than home-WRECKER. Also, despite the stripper anecdotes and the presence of a riding crop onstage, 7 1/2 Habits of Highly Effective Mistresses doesn't even warrant a PG-13 rating. Even the raciest song in the show (and the most derivative), "The Fellatio Tango" (think Tom Lehrer), barely managed to say or do anything that a soccer mom would object to. This is not necessarily a bad thing, yet the title implies a certain degree of naughtiness and envelope-pushing that the show did not live up to.
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Copyright 2003 Charles Battersby