Thursday, November 11, 2010
Liza Minnelli to bounce back from illness at Staten Island concert
Published: Thursday, November 11, 2010, 9:15 AM
STATEN ISLAND, NY -- Do you know of the fake E.G.O.T. necklace that Tracy Morgan wears on NBC’s “30 Rock,” which represents the winning of every major award in the entertainment world? Well, Liza Minnelli is one of the few entertainers who should actually own one: She counts an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and three Tonys among the many accolades she’s received in her lifetime.
With three Golden Globes under her sequined sash as well, this irrepressible five-foot, four-inch living legend long ago proved she is a must-see performer on the stage. Maybe that’s why tickets for her Nov. 20 performance at the historic St. George Theatre are nearly sold out.
Staten Island is lucky, too, considering Minnelli had to cancel seven shows in October while she battled bronchial pneumonia.
“I do not want to let down my fans as my loyalty to them has always been of prime importance in my life,” the 64-year-old said in a statement Oct. 15. “Performing live is my passion and I’m greatly disappointed that I will not be able to continue my tour.”
The St. George show will be Minnelli’s first gig back on the road. Her recent tour is in support of a new album, “Confessions” (Decca Records), which strips away her usual propensity for big-arrangements in favor of 14 intimate takes on American standards with the help of longtime accompanist Billy Stritch (whom Islanders might recall from his sterling solo gig at Bloomfield’s Lorenzo’s Cabaret, circa 2006).
The raven-haired wraps her unmistakable vibrato around classics made famous by everyone from Peggy Lee to to Ella Fitzgerald.
“I listen to Ella Fitzgerald records and I think ‘that’s how I feel,’” said Minnelli, in a new promo video for “Confessions” featured below.
“That’s why I learned them, because they explained things to me so much better than I could.”
The daughter of legendary singer/actress Judy Garland and filmmaker Vincente Minnelli, Liza came into her own as a singular night club performer and recording artist as a teen in the 1960s. She scored her first best actress Tony at 19 (for Kander and Ebb’s “Flora the Red Menace”), and her first Oscar nod at 23, as eccentric Pookie Adams in “The Sterile Cuckoo.”
Of course, she she achieved bona fide international superstardom with her Academy Award-winning performance as Sally Bowles in Bob Fosse’s 1972 film adaptation of “Cabaret.”
Live tours, Broadway bows, TV specials, Studio 54, more films and much tabloid coverage followed. While not all were received well, Minnelli’s natural and honed abilities for comedy and drama — her raw vulnerabilty and steely perseverance in the harsh spotlight — has kept fans coming back.
In 2000, Minnelli was nearly sentenced to a mute life in a wheelchair by a bad case of viral encephalitis, but miraculously survived. By 2001, she was already back performing for longtime friend Michael Jackson’s 30th Anniversary Special Concert. A high-profile marriage/divorce, two more Broadway smashes and multiple hip and knee-replacements followed for the self-proclaimed “old hoofer.”
But the last decade has seen the veteran performer — and survivor — continue to broaden her horizons.
“You have to have the instinct,” said Minnelli to Larry King in October, while describing younger trail-blazer Lady Gaga, “and you also have to have the courage to do something that’s not quite like everybody else does.”
Anyone who performed Mary J. Blige’s “Family Affair,” as Minnelli did on stage in 2002, or cover Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),” as she did in 2010’s “Sex and The City 2,” has a sense of humor about her place in the world. But the actress was also introduced to a whole new set of potential fans with her raucous turn as balance-challenged retiree Lucille Austero, in TV’s critically-championed-but-short-lived-cult-hit “Arrested Development.” (A big screen version has been confirmed for 2012).
At the St. George Theatre, Minnelli will surely bring some laughs, some tears — and her unique voice — to the stage. At 64, it’s what she still does best.
“I’ll never write a book,” Minnelli said on “The View” last month, just before falling ill. “I’m just not that kind of person. But this album, I think it’s all the loves I’ve ever had in my life.”
Related topics: liza-minnelli, st.-george-theatre
LIZA MINELLI LIVE!
Performing original songs from the new CD "Confessions" & much more
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 20
Where: St. George Theatre, 35 Hyatt St., St. George; 718-442-2900; StGeorgeTheatre.com.
How much: $50, $75, $125 at the box office and Ticketmaster.com ($200 VIP ticket includes prime seating and complimentary champagne reception at 6:30 p.m.)
More info: OfficialLizaMinnelli.com