Off Beat with Philip Potempa
By Philip Potempa - email@example.com, (219) 852-4327 Posted: Sunday, March 21, 2010 12:00 am
It was in March 2006 that I last wrote about the legendary Liza Minnelli returning to Chicago.
That's Chicago the city, not "Chicago" the musical.
Most people still recall how Minnelli, who turned 64 on March 12, stepped into the lead role in Bob Fosse's hit musical in 1975 opposite Chita Rivera after Fosse's ex-wife Gwen Verdon dropped out of the Broadway production.
That last time during her stop in the Windy City, Minnelli was here to do a rare personal appearance and autograph session for fans signing only the DVD release of her popular 1972 television special "Liza with a 'Z'" at the Borders on Michigan Avenue.
Minnelli did a one-night concert in August 2008 as one of the first big headliners also booked at The Venue, when that new stage space opened at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.
Star Plaza CEO and Talent Buyer Charlie Blum has scored a major booking, by just inking a deal for Minnelli to headline a special one-night concert at 7:30 p.m. June 6 at the historic Chicago Theatre.
Presented by Blum and his Star Productions, he tells me Minnelli will sing sensational American standards in "a glamorous and intimate concert."
He said the show "will feature some of the greatest songs of all time performed in their purest, most intimate form" with Minnelli and her quartet. She will be accompanied by Billy Stritch.
"This one-night-only performance showcases Minnelli at her best, singing these classic American standards as only she can," Blum told me Thursday, when he called me with his exclusive announcement.
Among the more interesting bits of interviews I've caught about Minnelli, she says she doesn't like to watch old footage of her mother Judy Garland because she still misses her too much, and when asked if she will marry for a fifth time, she replies: "Are you crazy?"
You can bet she'll have plenty to say to her fans from the stage, when this four-time Tony Award winner, two-time Golden Globe winner and recipient of an Academy Award, an Emmy Award and a Grammy Award, hits the spotlight.
Tickets just went on sale Saturday. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster at ticketmaster.com or (800) 745-3000. They range from $52 to $122. FYI: thechicagotheatre.com.
Minnelli is true Hollywood royalty, as the daughter of actress/singer Garland and Vincente Minnelli, the film director responsible for such classics as "Meet Me in St. Louis" and "An American in Paris."
She began her career at an early age, appearing with her mother in the movie "In the Good Old Summertime" in 1949. By the time she was 19, she had landed the lead role in the Broadway musical "Flora, the Red Menace," a performance that won her first Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
But it was in 1972 that she really won acclaim for several film performances, especially when her movie career peaked when she played Sally Bowles in "Cabaret." That film won eight Oscars, including Best Actress for Minnelli. The role also earned her a Golden Globe and a British Film Academy Award.
Up next was that first concert ever filmed live for television in 1972.
In the 1980s, she starred opposite Dudley Moore in the "Arthur" movies.
As busy as ever, in 2008, she finally returned to Broadway with "Liza's at the Palace ..." which went on to win the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event.
She then recreated the show at the MGM Grand Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas where her performance was filmed for a PBS special and a DVD. The show's cast recording was nominated for a Grammy Award.
We're very lucky Blum managed to get her for this one Chicago date, since she's been busy in the studio working on recording her new album.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 219.852.4327.
Today's Celebrity Birthdays
Actor Al Freeman Jr. is 79. Actress Kathleen Widdoes ("As the World Turns") is 71. Singer Solomon Burke is 70. Singer-keyboardist Rose Stone of Sly and the Family Stone is 65. Actor Timothy Dalton is 64. Singer Eddie Money is 61. Singer-guitarist Rodger Hodgson (Supertramp) is 60. Bassist Conrad Lozano of Los Lobos and singer Russell Thompkins Jr. of the Stylistics are 59. Actress Sabrina LeBeauf ("The Cosby Show") and actor Gary Oldman and Brad Hall (Saturday Night Live) are 52. Actor Matthew Broderick and actress-comedian Rosie O'Donnell are 48. MC Maxim of Prodigy and keyboardist Jonas "Joker" Berggren of Ace of Base are 43. Guitarist Andrew Copeland of Sister Hazel is 42. DJ Premier of Gang Starr is 41.
Posted in Offbeat on Sunday, March 21, 2010 12:00 am Updated: 10:07 pm. Tags: Commentary, Arts And Theatre, Celebrities, Chicago, Columnists, Entertainment, Merrillville, Movies, Music, Radio, Television, Theater