Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Liza on her current tour...2008.

The famed icon gets up close and personal on her current tour.
By Rick Bentley / The Fresno Bee
01/14/08 19:11:41
Liza Warehouse

Mention the name Kay Thompson, and you might start thinking about a 6-year-old girl. It's not because Thompson is known for being that age. She's the author of the four "Eloise" books about the precocious 6-year-old girl who lives at the posh Plaza Hotel in New York.
There just might be some who know Thompson as an actress and singer, songwriter and vocal coach in movies starting in the 1930s.
But the name Kay Thompson means more -- a whole lot more -- to Liza Minnelli.
"She was a great godmother. Only hours after my mother died, she was by my side. And she never left my side. She stayed with me until she passed away," Minnelli says about her godmother who died in 1998. "I have been slowly adding her songs to my show over the last year. About 40 minutes of my show now is a tribute to her."
Minnelli honors Thompson in her current tour that brings the Oscar-, Emmy- and Tony-winning dancer, actress and singer to the central San Joaquin Valley to perform Wednesday at Table Mountain Casino. The appearance here is an early stop in the tour that started Saturday in Providence, R.I.
Despite a health scare a month ago in Goteborg, Sweden, involving an on-stage collapse, Minnelli, 61, sounds chipper and full of energy. She talks about family, friends and film with the abundant energy that has made her the star of stage, screen and TV for 45 years.
In recent years, Minnelli's personal life -- marriages, divorces and bouts with addiction -- have been fodder for the tabloid press. But she has been performing despite all the negative attention.
Unless you have been living in a pop-culture cocoon, you know that Minnelli is the daughter of film director Vincente Minnelli and Hollywood icon Judy Garland.
Minnelli, who started acting in 1963, rose to stardom by playing a variety of offbeat, high-strung, manic, quirky and always interesting characters over the years. One of the notable characters was in the 1969 feature film "The Sterile Cuckoo" (1969), in which Minnelli played the eccentric Pookie Adams. The performance earned Minnelli her first Academy Award nomination.
A year later, she played an equally eccentric character in "Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon." Toss in quirky work in "Cabaret," "Arthur" and even the television series "Arrested Development," and Minnelli as made a career out of playing offbeat and memorable characters.
Her appearance on "Arrested Development" in 2004 and 2005 brought Minnelli to the attention of a younger generation. That's why the audiences for her stage shows are filled with younger and older fans.
Minnelli knew as soon as she started reading the script for "Arrested Development" that she wanted to be part of the Fox series. She spent weeks with her dance teacher learning how to fall in a scene without getting hurt. But she was disappointed when she showed up to shoot the role that a stunt person was called in to do the action sequences.
Despite that, she is offered other quirky roles from time to time. That hasn't always been the case. She says that Junie Moon was the one role that she was the most determined to play on screen. She camped out in the producer's office until he finally cast her. As for the rest of her film, TV and stage roles, Minnelli just doesn't want to be thought of as boring.
She laughs and says even the incident in Sweden plays into that. On Dec. 12, she was leaving the stage in Goteborg when she collapsed. That incident ignited tabloid fires about her physical and mental health."You faint someplace, and everyone talks about it. Working on the show is hard. It was just for a second," Minnelli says as she continues to chuckle at the reaction to the incident.
Her life is actually really boring, she says, so something like fainting has to be reported.
Minnelli plays down her career and talent when she talks about herself. Despite the musical skills she has shown in almost every medium possible -- stage, movies, TV, concert halls, recordings -- Minnelli says she has always considered herself a dancer first and then an actress. And singing is a distant third to her.
"Dancing is acting through your body. Singing is acting with your voice. Singing was never natural for me like it was for my mother or my sister [Lorna Luft]. It is just not natural to me," Minnelli says. "I am a storyteller."
Minnelli finds the rush that she gets from stepping on a stage to tell stories is greater now than at any point in her life. She credits that to the personal nature of this show.
This tour, she says, is where she reveals the most about herself. So Minnelli is taking the opportunity to tell the story of a person who holds a deep and special meaning to her: Kay Thompson.
She's honoring Thompson through song. As a cabaret-style singer, Thompson is best known for recordings made in 1935 that include "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," "You Hit the Spot," "Don't Mention Love to Me" and "You Let Me Down."
In one way, Minnelli's salute to Thompson is a bit of payback. It was Minnelli as a little girl in the 1950s who inspired the impish Eloise that became such a memorable literary character.
Minnelli's biggest hope as she starts into this new tour is that the audience will find her stories both funny and interesting. She'll know immediately if they do -- or don't.
"The energy I get from an audience has everything to do with my show. Have you ever played tennis? It is like playing tennis with someone who is a good partner. I completely depend on the audience to share the exper- ience with me," Minnelli says. The reporter can be reached at or at (559) 441-6355.

1 comment:

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