By Philip Potempa - firstname.lastname@example.org, (219) 852-4327 | Posted: Saturday, June 5, 2010 12:00 am
The timing couldn't be any better for the legendary Liza Minnelli to return to Chicago this weekend for her exclusive concert at the famed Chicago Theatre.
In 2006, she was in the Windy City at the Borders on Michigan Avenue for a rare appearance and autograph session for the DVD release of her popular 1972 television special "Liza with a 'Z.'"
She also did a one-night concert in August 2008 as one of the first headliners booked at The Venue, when it opened at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.
However, Star Plaza CEO and Talent Buyer Charlie Blum scored a major bit of wiz kid booking, when he inked his deal for Minnelli to headline this special one-night performance at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
At press time, tickets were still available at Ticketmaster at ticketmaster.com or (800) 745-3000. They start at just $52. FYI: thechicagotheatre.comPresented 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.
And why is the timing so ideal for the Sunday appearance?
Thursday marks the 88th birthday of Minnelli's mother Judy Garland.
In fact, MGM musical star Jane Powell, 81, a close friend of Garland's dating back to when the gals were young starts at MGM, will make a personal appearance in the Twin Cities at part of The 35th Annual Judy Garland Festival.
All proceeds from the festival benefit The Judy Garland Museum and The Children's Discovery Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., where she was born. FYI: (800) 664-5839 or judygarlandmuseum.comPowell is familiar to many for her "America's little sister"-type roles during her movie-musical career in the 1950s and particular, her lead as Milly opposite actor Howard Keel in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" in 1954.
The last time I talked with her was in June 2003 after she snagged a plum role in Stephen Sondheim's new stage musical comedy "Bounce" at the Goodman Theatre.
Powell never had the chance to make a film with Garland.
But she did fill in for her friend starring opposite Fred Astaire in "Royal Wedding" in 1951, after she was brought in to replace June Allyson and Garland, both having to pass on the film because of illness. In 1963, Powell finally got to share the stage with her friend Judy while taping an episode of the CBS's "The Judy Garland Show," with the duo joined by fellow guest Ray Bolger (who played The Scarecrow) to perform "The Jitterbug," a song deleted from MGM's "The Wizard of Oz" in 1939.
As for Minnelli, 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.
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's been making major headlines the past two weeks following her fantastic turn playing herself during one of the splashiest scenes in the new "Sex in the City 2" movie. Taking her own spin on Beyonce's "Single Ladies," she steals the show during a wedding scene early in the film, which also features more than 500 extras, swans and a men's Broadway chorus. I'm told that one scene took many hours of shooting time to get it just right, with Liza giving it her all for every take.
At the end of this month, Minnelli is also unveiling her own clothing line called "The Liza Collection" for the Home Shopping Network and she'll be releasing her new album "Confessions" in September on the Decca label.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at email@example.com or 219.852.4327.