Friday, June 27, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Posted by Janet Charlton on June 24, 2008 5:46 PM
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Friday night at the Hollywood Bowl, in a blazing heat, under smoggy stars, Liza Minnelli gave the greatest performance of her life. At sixty-two years of age she defied the cookie-cutter-American Idol-mediocrity that Americans have come to accept as organic talent. Liza Minnelli earned her ovations with her lifetime of commitment and one night of sweltering, spot-on perfection. She soared with an intuitive talent fueled by grit, hard work, courage, and studied skill. A lightning rod of timing, movement and voice, each successive audacious number rocketed from the base of her soul exploding across the wide-eyed audience as they stood in giddy disbelief. This was American showbiz at the top of its game. Minnelli wasn't just living the performance; she made the audience feel 200% alive.
As Americans face our daily onslaught of bad news, dire predictions, and cynicism, entertainment must inspire us, not just entertain or distract us. Seven-plus years of Republican imprudence, fear mongering, and looking to the heavens for strength have disassociated too many of us from the possibility of perfection and rebirth that lies within each one of us. If America is to redefine herself as a leader, we must all learn from performances like Minnelli's. Each one of us must pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, cast off our "Restless Leg Syndrome-Fiber Myalgia-Identity-Theft" fears and get back to the work of being strong resilient individuals proud of our domestic output.
From Britney Spears to reality television, from violent films to the irresponsibility of the movie Juno, Hollywood has rewarded mediocrity time and time again, lowering the bar for millions of young viewers looking for their standard-bearer. If America is to shine once more, we need optimistic leaders in Washington, at home, in education, in science, on Broadway, and in Hollywood.
The LA Philharmonic, whose board runs the Hollywood Bowl, is taking the lead to educate and inspire children through music. The public sector benefits immeasurably from this kind of civic leadership. Just ask Gustavo Dudamel, their incoming music director/conductor. At the precious age of twenty-seven, he is the product of a trailblazing music education in Venezuela called El Sistema. If music education ever had an inspirational shot in the arm, Dudamel is a hypodermic. His success, spirit, and leadership will even help make music education a priority in America's public schools.
The LA Phil's varied music education program called "Music Matters" was the financial beneficiary of Friday evening. The opening night gala was a celebration honoring Minnelli, Sir James Galway, and B.B. King, inducting each of them into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. B.B. King was stellar as the father of floor-stomping-soulful Blues; Galway's flute was prayful and playful as "Danny Boy" echoed across the bowl. It was a night that could rival the imagined dream ticket of Billie Holliday, Glenn Miller, and Judy Garland.
Tragically, Friday night's blowout is threatened by union rules to lose its only historical record. The Bowl captured the entire evening on DVD, but only the sections the stars specify to be archived at the Bowl's Hall of Fame museum will be retained. The rest of the evening -- potentially all of the evening -- will be destroyed. If Judy Garland's 1961 appearance at Carnegie Hall had lost its only recording, her greatest night would have been over at her final bow. I can only hope Liza will follow in her mother's footsteps by ordering The Bowl to preserve perfection.
Meanwhile, Bravo to Liza Minnelli!
NEW YORK — Sunday marked the 39th anniversary of Judy Garland's death, and her eldest child, Liza Minnelli, was reminded of her mother over the weekend as she was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.
She was about 15, she thinks, when her mother performed one of her final shows at the Bowl. "They built this ramp that went over the pool — or whatever that is in the front — and she was so scared to walk out there to the end," she recalls. "So she's halfway there, and she says, 'Liza, I'm going to fall,' and I remember jumping up" to help.
The Tony/Oscar/Emmy/Grammy winner, 62, also remembers her first visit to the landmark amphitheater, which is tucked away in the Hollywood Hills.
"I was little — I guess about 4," Minnelli says. "I sat on my dad's lap, next to Mama. And it was my godfather, Ira Gershwin, who was being honored there. So they played all the wonderful Gershwin songs."
As a teen, Minnelli says she sat up high on the lawn — in the Bowl's cheap section. "That's when you go with a boy and hope he's going to put his arm around you," she recalls with a hearty laugh.
On Friday, she performed at the Bowl for the first time. She had been rehearsing vigorously with her best friend and choreographer of 38 years, Ron Lewis, who accompanied her to the Tony Awards.
Before heading west, Minnelli stopped at New York's Tavern on the Green, where she and fourth husband David Gest courted before their lavish 2002 wedding. Some thought was even given to holding the ceremony here.
Minnelli shrieks when asked about the possibility of a fifth marriage, much like the reaction often given by close friend Elizabeth Taylor.
"I'm not going to get up to that number — what is it, 18?" Minnelli cracks, with her signature guffaw. (Eight, actually.) "Marriage is not right for me. I'm so happy now. I feel like my feet are on the ground and my head's in the sky."
Minnelli lets out a deep sigh when asked who of her many companions has been the love of her life.
"Uh, I don't know. Every relationship is different and wonderful at the time," she says. "I think you learn constantly from the people that you're attracted to. I have the best taste in friends and the worst taste in marriages."
But her first husband, Aussie song and dance man Peter Allen, to whom she was married from 1967-74, is a contender. "We remained friends up until the second he died," she offers, with a touch of melancholy. Allen died of AIDS in 1992.
Minnelli avoids talk of Gest, from whom she divorced last year. When reminded that he has not come up, she is quick to add, "And he won't!" Even so, she claims she wouldn't change one chapter in her life. "We meet each other for a reason, and things do go on. It's your choice how to remember things. You can concentrate on the bad and be neurotic. Or you can concentrate on the good and go forward, which is what I do."
With two new hips, Minnelli is able to jump and move in ways she hadn't been able to in years. She typically rises around 8 a.m. and dances with Lewis at The Martha Graham Dance Studio for up to two hours a day. "I practically live there," she says. "If I don't dance at least for 10 minutes a day, I don't feel right. Being there reminds me of my times with Martha (the famous choreographer who died in 1991) and Halston (her fashion designer friend who died of AIDS in 1990) and Bianca (Jagger), and that whole Studio 54 gang."
She has been redecorating her New York apartment as a tribute to her beloved father, director Vincente Minnelli, who died in 1986.
"I'm doing one wall in green velvet because my father's office at MGM was green." Her father's Oscar is displayed alongside the one she won for 1972's Cabaret, but Garland's Academy Award is in Los Angeles in a relative's home.
In the evenings, Minnelli enjoys watching TV crime shows before heading to bed around 10 p.m., sometimes accompanied by her stable of pets, including baby schnauzer Emelina, Emelina's son, Oscar, and three new puppies who are "still breast-feeding," she says. "We only have one more week, and then we've got to wean them."
Among her few regrets is that she was unable to have children. "You wish something had been a little different," she says. "But because I can't have children, what I do now is work with brain-injured kids. I feel like I have a hundred million kids, and they can count on me."
Minnelli is entertaining no thoughts of retiring. She just returned from Europe, where she performed eight shows of her new stage spectacular Pizzazz: The Kay Thompson Story. A New York production and accompanying album (produced by Phil Ramone) are in the works.
Thompson, who died just shy of her 100th birthday in 1998, was an actress, singer and Minnelli's godmother. The show, Minnelli says, "is about my memories of her. I don't think anybody realizes what a huge influence she was in my life and how brilliant my parents were to make her my godmother."
While in London, Minnelli and two gal pals caught a screening of Sex and the City: The Movie, which reminded her of how much she missed New York.
"If I feel down about something, I immediately go outside and see somebody who is worse off than I am, and that helps me," she says. And with the help of her new hips, "I never stop moving. I may die, but I'll never grow old."
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
By Don Heckman, Special to The Times June 23, 2008
As the summer heat and a sense of nostalgia permeated the air, the Hollywood Bowl kicked off its 87th season Friday night with a stirring, fireworks-enlivened tribute to three new inductees into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. All -- flutist James Galway, singer-guitarist B.B. King and singer-dancer-actress Liza Minnelli -- were present and ready to perform.For more than three decades, Galway's playing has been crossing classical music, dipping into jazz and bringing traditional Celtic sounds to mass audiences; King is a singing, guitar-playing icon of the blues and the namesake for a chain of music nightclubs; and Minnelli, the offspring of illustrious showbiz lineage, has starred on stage and recordings, in films, television and beyond. Further enhancing the evening, guest star Duane Eddy, the veteran rock guitarist, was cranked up and ready to recall his late-'50s hit "Rebel Rouser. "
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
The rumor is true...Scott just posted (Thanks so Much Scott)on the Official site that Liza will be performing at the Seaside Concert series in Coney Island. This show is always Fantastic and draws like 20,000 people. Check this linkhttp://www.brooklynconcerts.com/seaside.htmlon Sunday for the schedule and info. or OLM http://www.officiallizaminnelli.com/appearances.html
Exciting news..right! Free show except for good seats usually $10.
"Listen to the Song of Life"
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
"I think probably Barbra and maybe even Cher and myself in school felt like outcasts because we didn’t have standard looks. Maybe what a gay icon is, is a person who is rooted for — in other words, cheered on — by people who feel different."Liza Minnelli, when asked which star is the biggest gay icon: Cher, Barbra Streisand or herself; her answer was Cher (Newsweek, April 3)
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Musis Liza Minnelli,Clyde Auditorium, glasgowMarianne Gunn***** Taking the stage wearing velveteen leggings and a diamante headband, on first appearances Ms Minnelli wouldn't have been amiss on board a cruise ship. In her first UK tour in more than 20 years - and with top tickets an eye-watering £95 - expectations were high and breath was bated to see if Liza could still deliver.
Her breathy, raspy, over-dramatic delivery proved that here was a performer very much from another, stylised era. Who else could name-drop Sinatra, Scorsese and Sondheim without batting an eyelid?
For the first half you could hear a pin drop. She mesmerised with every little lispy gasp of feigned pleasure and faux nervousness - and I've never seen a standing ovation for almost every song.
It was a show that was slick to the point of extreme facial choreography - and, boy, does Liza know how to work it. She may as well have crowed "lights, camera, action!" whenever those eyes started darting and fluttering around and to the auditorium.
She is also a consummate comedienne, a fact that was not lost as she joked about her extreme dieting, ironically citing both Jenny Craig and Sara Lee as Great American Women. Her extreme marital habits were also mentioned: "One day I was divorcing someone " she joked with the crowd, to fabulous whoops of support and adoration.
But, as it should be, the songs were the true show-stoppers - numbers such as Cabaret's Maybe This Time and My Own Best Friend from her Broadway days as Roxie Hart in Chicago. Closing the first half, she duped the crowd with an understated, tongue-in-cheek intro to Kander and Ebb's Cabaret. Her other signature tune - New York, New York - provided the pinnacle moment of the second half, which was a tribute to her godmother Kay Thompson, a vocal coach, writer, performer and truly inspirational woman.
As part of a generation who knows Liza Minnelli more for the ill-advised Stepping Out than her seminal turn in Cabaret, it was a pleasure to see an old-school star in action, in the limelight and just about in touch with reality.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
LIZA Minnelli gave Scots actor Alan Cumming a big smacker backstage at her show in Glasgow last night.
Cabaret star Liza, 62, wowed the audience at the Armadillo with her two-and-a-half-hour stage show, including three outfit changes.
Judy Garland's daughter sang classics including Maybe This Time.
She thanked the city for loving her and promised to return.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
The atmosphere at Birmingham Symphony Hall was bursting with excitement for the return of living legend Liza Minnelli on her first UK tour in 20 years.
Weighing 44lbs less, flaunting a pair of cracking legs and having put some difficult years behind her, the 62-year-old was clearly relishing the live experience.
Maybe she was just relieved to be there - a mix-up with work permits had threatened the tour and Birmingham would have missed out on a night of razzle dazzle.
Liza is still the epitome of cabaret, well she did win an Oscar for the film of the same name. Favourites Cabaret, Maybe This Time and My Own Best Friend were bashed out before the half-way point of the two-hour extravaganza.
Ticket prices may have been high, but every line of every song was delivered with real emotion.
She seemed truly appreciative of the support the audience showered on her, with too many standing ovations to count.
Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
THERE’s no business like showbusiness – and there’s no star left like Liza Minnelli. The most famous actress-singer of her generation finally came to what Tony Bennett has long declared to be the best venue for acoustics in the world.
And she didn’t let anybody down.
Opened 17 years ago next week by the Queen, Symphony Hall was built for unforgettable nights like this.
If it once seemed as if she’d never perform again, she has put on her tights and dancing shoes to start over. And how.
The showbiz queen blew her audience away last night with a performance of such class, pure emotion and physical exertion that it would have had Newton rewriting his law of gravitation.
It was as if the coming together of so many fans kept 62-year-old Liza afloat on stage throughout her astonishing two-hour show.
Her voice might not be quite what it was, but it has lost none of its emotive power.
Any imperfections caused by sheer breathlessness only added to the thrill of seeing an artist offering the ultimate definition of the adage that ‘the show must go on’.
Backed by her own sensational 12-piece orchestra, I counted some 19 songs.
Yet Liza still found time to tell enough stories about her parents, Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli, as well as godmother Kay Thompson and songwriting godfather Ira Gershwin to fill an hour of a TV chat show.
Like her songs, they were all delivered with perfect timing.
And with hand movements that had all the grace and precision of a legendary mime artist like Marcel Marceau.
Liza’s onstage movements might have been refined by a combination of age and two artificial hips, but even when she was 30 she was clever enough not to expect to be able to dance like a 20-year-old.
The second half of the show paid tribute to the Williams Brothers (including Andy) and the creativity of Kay Thompson, the creator of the Eloise stories and whose birth centenary will be in November this year.
But it was hearing timeless classics like Maybe This Time, Cabaret and Theme From New York, New York (which was written for Liza, not Frank Sinatra) which was the dream come true for many.
Liza certainly gave last night’s show her all and, while top priced tickets were £95, anybody with the money would have still have had top value from £500.
Backstage afterwards Liza told me she was thrilled with her night’s work – and her team hoped they could bring her back in the future.
When I suggested her glittering headband had turned her into Wonder Woman, she quipped: "It was keeping the sweat out of my eyes!"
Glasgow on Friday is Liza’s last UK show before she hosts the Tony Awards in the US on June 15 prior to being inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame on June 22.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
There aren’t many people for whom the word ‘legend’ is applicable, but Liza Minnelli is certainly one of them. Tales of marital woe and substance abuse may have dogged her personal life, but Minnelli’s career highlights put most people’s in the shade. With copious column inches devoted to divorce, drugs and dieting, it’s easy to forget that the daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli has racked up an Oscar, an Emmy, three Tony Awards, two Golden Globes and a Grammy.
Playing Glasgow as part of a UK tour, Minnelli will perform classic showstoppers such as ‘Cabaret’, ‘Maybe This Time’ and ‘New York, New York’. Having worked as an actor, dancer and singer, does Minnelli have a preferred way of communicating with an audience? ‘I think it all comes from the same place,’ she says. ‘Singing is acting with music, dancing is acting with your body. I started as a dancer, so that’s really my first love, and then everything else fell into place because I wanted to be on Broadway.’
Hailing from such a famous family, accusations of nepotism must have been rife in the early days. At what point did Minnelli feel she was accepted on her own merit? ‘I think it was when I won my first Tony Award,’ she says. ‘I never did anything in Hollywood, I thought making movies was boring. For a kid to witness it, it’s so dull, they do it over and over again. So when I went to Broadway, it wasn’t our family business, that was film, so it was a whole new thing.’
Almost 60 years after her first performance, Minnelli is still going strong and will pepper her show with anecdotes from her life both onstage and off. But is it possible to create an intimate atmosphere in a large theatre? ‘Oh God, sure,’ she says. ‘That’s why I keep the lights up a little, so I can see everybody. I’m very open on stage and can feel what an audience likes. When I’m talking to somebody in the crowd, I’ve been told that everyone feels like I’m talking to them, which is a wonderful compliment.’
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
June 3, 2008
Venue: The Bridgewater Hall
Date Reviewed: 3rd June, 2008
The buzz and excitement that precedes a Liza Minnelli concert cannot be bought. This legendary singer has been wowing audiences in the UK on her current tour and they adore her. As she enters the stage, she receives her first standing ovation. The one thing that strikes you as everyone’s favourite Sally Bowles steps into view is how she good she looks. She has lost weight and looks every inch the glamour-puss.
This old-school singer is such a brilliant storyteller; her “The Man I Love” shows wannabe reality television stars how to belt out a song with emotion. She has ‘lived’ these tunes and gives them the right amount of chutzpah, when required. The loyal and appreciative crowd leap to their feet again, overwhelmed by the presence of such a classy performer.
Sure, the annecdotes are cheesy and about as sincere as Gordon Brown’s “Don’t Panic” speeches but Liza has the ability to make every song a show stopper. The voice, it has to be said is quite raspy and although she cannot quite hit the dizzy heights of Kander and Ebb’s musical arrangements, she gives it a damn good try. And she still wipes the floor with many of today’s singers.
The show has a real Las Vegas feel as Ms Minnelli jokes about her weight loss, her marriages and life in the media spotlight. As self indulgent as all of this clearly is, the audience warm to her, as they have not come here for a slice of reality. They want showbiz, sparkles, glitz and conversation and that’s exactly what they get.
I loved the tale of Liza stepping onto the Broadway stage, unnannounced as Roxie Hart in Chicago due to the indisposition of Gwen Verdon. Imagine the thrilled faces in the audience, as an in her prime, Minnelli starts to dance, I bet the name of everybody’s lips was gonna be Liza.
She knows she is not as young as she used to be and jokes that she now “sits down in the first act” rather than the second. But even in the chair, “Maybe This Time” gives the audience one of those pinch-me moments that you do not often get from a contemporary star. Cue, the next standing ovation!
The second act is a tribute to her god mother, Kay Thompson. Liza’s vocals actually seem stronger here and she exposes the finest pair of pins you have seen, since Tina Turner became your “Private Dancer.” One member of the audience shouts: “You’re gorgeous!” Liza gushes, but this is a star who walks into a room and people stand up and cheer. Yet, she remains a very enigmatic performer, even with the rehearsed lines and sugary showbiz tales.
Her backing singers/dancers deliver superb harmonies and she dances incredibly well alongside them, considering the various hip ops and her age. This is a woman who knows how to entertain via jazz hands, longing stares and pauses a-plenty. But it doesn’t feel dated, it’s almost like you accept you are going back in time to the Golden Age of musicals, the minute you enter the theatre.
I would have personally welcomed Stephen Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind” from Follies, later made famous by Liza and her superb collaboration with The Pet Shop Boys. But, when you get “New York, New York” and “Life Is A Cabaret”, who’s complaining.
Liza Minnelli is a seasoned performer who knows exactly what her audience want.
On Monday night, she gave ‘em plenty of schmaltz, high-kicking numbers, with big over-the-top finales and the fans whooped with delight! I now consider myself one of them!