Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Live-wire Liza!

By Chuck BarneyContra Costa Times
Posted: 12/05/2009 12:03:00 AM PST

NOW IN HER fifth decade as a singing, dancing dynamo, Liza Minnelli continues to make one thing emphatically clear: You can't keep her down.
Late last year, Minnelli, 63, returned to Broadway for a sold-out run at the famed Palace Theatre. The concert extravaganza — "Liza's at The Palace ...!" had critics raving about her boundless energy, emotional investment and still-powerful vocals. For her efforts, Minnelli collected a fourth Tony Award — to go along with her Oscar, Emmy and Grammy.
Now "Liza's at The Palace ...!" comes to our living rooms in the form of a new public-television special. Filmed over two days at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the program reprises material performed during the Broadway engagement, including favorites like "Cabaret," "New York, New York" and her mother Judy Garland's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
Minnelli has called the concert the "most personal" she has ever done. She offers amusing riffs on her bouts with pill addiction and failed marriages. She also delivers a stirring tribute to her late godmother, Kay Thompson, a groundbreaking singer-dancer, songwriter and vocal arranger.
We recently caught up with Minnelli via phone to talk about the show, which will make its way to DVD in February.
Q: So how do you manage to make 63 look so good?
A: I just keep moving, honey. ... I truly believe that nothing can keep you down if you don't want to be kept down.

Q: And the energy? Where does that come from?
A: It comes from fear (laughing)! I don't want to fail. And I'm a perfectionist just like my father (film director Vincente Minnelli) was. I always go out on stage thinking that someone in the audience is seeing this for the first and only time. So it's got to be right.
Q: Your show re-creates Kay Thompson's nightclub act. What do you want the viewers to know about her?
A: She was Hollywood's biggest secret. Not many people know a lot about her, but anyone in the music business does. She was huge at MGM during the '30s (as a vocal coach to the stars and arranger on some of the studio's biggest musicals). And she wrote the "Eloise" children's books. She was a life force. She was amazing.
Q: And she was a big influence on you?
A: Absolutely. I knew her my whole life. I can remember going to her nightclub act in 1948. I was only 2, and the stage came up to my nose. I was sitting there in my mother's lap, and suddenly, out came this human whirlwind. She just never stopped moving. I was mesmerized.
Q: So what was the genesis of this show?
A: Oddly enough, it started off as an idea for an album. That's how I originally pitched it. During the meeting (with collaborators), I was going over the song titles and, in between, I was explaining who Kay was and highlighting different points in her life. And then it suddenly hit me: "Nope, this has got to be a show." ... But then it took four years to get Ron Lewis (her longtime director-choreographer) on board. He's an inspiration — and a great motivator.
Q: In the show, you don't shy away from poking a little fun at yourself. Does that come naturally?
A: Humor is essential. That's part of who I am. I just have to be myself on stage.
Q: And speaking of humor, you made quite an impression as a guest star on the sitcom "Arrested Development." Would you be open to doing more TV work?
A: Oh, sure. I had a blast doing that. The writing was so good, and the cast was great. We spent the whole time laughing.
Read Chuck Barney's TV blog at and follow him at
TV special
WHAT: "Liza's at The Palace ...!"
WHEN: 9 tonight
WHERE: Channel 9 (KQED)
note: This program will receive multiple airings on public television stations throughout the month. Check local listings for times and dates.

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