Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Liza with the Cast of Lorna's White Christmas in NJ

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Liza Minnelli - Liza Minnelli Postpones Gigs After Leg Injury
Veteran entertainer Liza Minnelli has postponed a handful of gigs as she recovers from a leg operation.
The Cabaret star underwent surgery last month (Nov11) to repair her leg, which was broken in three places after she tripped over her dog.
The singer was left wheelchair-bound following the accident, and she's pulling out of three U.S. dates as she takes time to heal.
The scrapped shows include stops in Newark, New Jersey on Friday (16Dec11), Westbury, New York on Sunday (18Dec11) and another at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania in February (12).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chita's always prospered...

Broadway legend Chita Rivera lends voice to San Francisco Symphony's 'Peter and the Wolf'

Chita Rivera isn't part of American musical theatre, she is American musical theatre. The Broadway star originated the roles of Anita in West Side Story, Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie, Velma Kelly in Chicago, and created starring roles in Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Rink (opposite Liza Minnelli).
While those roles often went to others when the shows were made into movies, Rivera's stellar acting, singing, and dancing gifts were immortalized on screen in the 1969 film Sweet Charity. ("Hey Big Spender," anyone?)
At 73, Rivera is as busy as ever. She'll narrate SF Symphony's Peter and the Wolf this Saturday, Dec. 10, and her rehearsal and performance calendar this past month has been so full that our phone chat had to be rescheduled three times.
"I just did a staged reading of Kander and Ebb's musical The Visit," she tells me when we finally connect. "And I'm in rehearsal for a reading of a new show called Zarra. It's a take-off on Zorro, only she's a dress designer. The important thing is to keep working."
When I ask her for specific memories that stand out from her landmark performances, two themes emerge again and again: her admiration and love for her collaborators, and the fact that no one knew what show would be a hit until it opened.
West Side Story "On opening night in D.C., we had no idea what we had, but it blew the roof off the theatre. That's when we realized it was something really special. 'America' stopped the show dead. We said to [director] Jerome Robbins, 'What do we do now?' He said, 'Go downstairs, get ready for the next scene, and go on with the show!'
"Sitting in Leonard Bernstein's apartment while he was teaching me the score to West Side Story, I was so nervous. I thought, 'Please God, don't let me throw up.'"
Bye Bye Birdie "Dick Van Dyke and [director] Gower Champion were so wonderful. I first went in to read with my friend Tom Poston, and he thought the show was awful. 'No one's gonna wanna hear these kids on telephones.' That shows you how much you know.
"Being on the inside, you're so busy working and trying to get it right, you don't think about how it will play. But hearing that laughter from the audience was mind-blowing; you realize why you're in the business."
Rivera chalks up her success to four elements, which she shares with aspiring young performers. "I've had the best company in the world, a lot of it is luck, you have to be ready to give it 200% – and believe in what you're doing."
Sweet Charity "When I first saw the musical starring Gwen Verdon I fell in love with it, and with her. Then I played Charity in the national touring company, then I did the film with Shirley MacLaine. We were old friends; we'd studied together. Gwen was the first to breathe life into the character, so she really owned it. But Shirley was adorable."
The Rink What was it like to star opposite (insert gay gasp here) Liza Minnelli? "We'd always wanted to work together and play girlfriends. Fred Ebb and John Kander called and said they had a new show, and would I star in it? I jokingly said, 'Let me think about it.' Then they said, 'How would you like to work with Liza Minnelli?' I said, 'Let me think about it.'
"They said it's about a mother and daughter. I said, 'Who plays the mother?'" But her role as the mother opposite Liza Minnelli in The Rink earned Rivera her first of two Tony Awards. She would win again for Kiss of the Spider Woman .
Chicago Rivera played Velma Kelly opposite Gwen Verdon's Roxie Hart in the original 1975 production. "Gwen was always one of the performers I looked up to, and one night I thought, 'Oh my god, I'm sharing the stage with Gwen Verdon!' The two of us worked so well together; we were both of the same school, both workhorses, and the whole show had such style."
Twenty-two years later, director Rob Marshall cast Rivera in a cameo role (as a tough female prisoner) in the film version. "Rob was in the chorus of The Rink, and he was determined to have me in the film. When I saw it, I thought, 'Oh my God, I look like Cher in drag!' But I loved the movie, and Catherine Zeta-Jones was wonderful."
Rivera has since received the highest honors a performer can hope for. She was the first Latina to be a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2002, when a new generation of performers re-created her greatest numbers. "It reminded me of all the things I've done, and that I really represented all the dancers in the theatre. All those wonderful chorus kids came down and danced for me, and I jumped up and one of my diamond earrings popped off. I thought, 'Oh my god – they're not mine!'"
She was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. "You have to have humor in your life, and when someone tells you you're getting the Medal of Freedom from Obama, I thought, 'Why?' Then I saw my whole family there and all these amazing people.
"There was an adorable Marine there, and I wondered, 'What if he leaned in to me and said, 'We've made a mistake.' But the award is really saying thank you for being an example to young kids.
"It really was breathtaking, especially since I'm from D.C. I looked down from the Oval Office window at the Washington Monument, and saw the lawn where I ran around as a kid."
Rivera jumped at the chance to narrate Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf with the San Francisco Symphony. "It's another lovely stone in my brooch, another bright moment to give an audience some enjoyment. And San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the entire world, but you guys must hear that all the time."
San Francisco Symphony performs Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Chita Rivera. Sat., Dec. 10 at 1 & 4 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall, SF. Tickets ($15-$57) at or (415) 864-6000.

Cortés Alexander talks about performing with the legendary Liza Minnelli and his upcoming show at Davenport's
I think touring with Liza gave me a confidence I wouldn't have mustered on my own."

After recently touring and performing with the legendary Liza Minnelli, including her recent Tony winning Broadway show, the multi-talented Cortés Alexander is bringing his "Swell Show" to Davenport's Piano Bar for one night only on Thursday, December 15th at 8pm. I recently caught up with my friend Cortes who told me about his new cabaret show and how his friendship with Liza and shaped his career.

MJR: (Michael J. Roberts) First of all, I can't believe it has been over three years since I last saw you when you were here with Liza. How did "The Swell Show" come about?

CA: (Cortés Alexander) "The Swell Show" came about because after "Liza's At The Palace" ended, I had a real bad case of PTSD (post traumatic show disorder) & needed to figure out my next move. It seemed I was working so much with groups, that I needed to figure out if I was worth my salt alone. I'm still working on that.
MJR: What do you like best about doing cabaret?

CA: I think the best thing about cabaret is the proximity of the audience. They are literally in your space, so it forces you to get comfortable & to make your audience feel like they're in your living room. I think all the salon nights at Liza's helped me with that one.

MJR: How has touring with Liza shaped you as an artist and what advice has she given you about the entertainment business?

CA: I think touring with Liza gave me a confidence I wouldn't have mustered on my own. In the beginning, I had to remind myself over & over, that she wouldn't share the stage with someone, unless she felt they could hold their own. So it was sink or swim. As for advice? The best piece of advice she gave me was to remain kind. You meet the same people on the way up, as you do on the way down

MJR: Tell me about your "Swell Girls".

CA: My "Swell Girls". I love them beyond words! Jennifer Rappo & Melissa Bailey. Jennifer I met at an open mic night & she was so beautiful & sang so great & just forced myself upon her (musically speaking, of course) & Melissa Bailey & I did our first B'way show together (Marilyn-An American Fable) with Kenny Ortega. She played Louella Parsons & stopped the show. Jennifer & Melissa stop my show too. At first I was just going to have them do some basic "ooh's & aah's", but they were so fast, that I had to integrate them more. In fact, I gave them a duet which they kill, thus making it even harder for me to come back on stage. But I like a challenge. [smiles]

MJR: Marketing and managing has changed a lot in the past decade. How has social media impacted your exposure?

CA: Social media is really all there is at my level. While I retain a publicist (Grapevine PR) thankfully, this is where I make no bones about my limitations. Facebook is about all I can handle & that's almost a full time job. So friend me.

MJR: What is happening with The Tonics?

CA: The Tonics & I keep talking about getting back & doing something. It'll happen, but everyone is so busy doing other projects, that scheduling is really a nightmare. But we want to do something, it's just not a priority right now.

MJR: Besides touring with The Swell Show, what else are you working on?

CA: . I am desperate to get The Swell Show" on an Atlantis or RSVP cruise. The Tonics did it years ago & we had a blast & I think the Swell Girls would LOVE. Until then, I flog away...

MJR: What do you want the audience to take away from your songs?

CA: What I want the audience to take away from my songs is really that, while I've had an extraordinary time in life thus far, everyone's life is extraordinary in their own way, & that's the beauty of getting older. It's never too late to dream & have aspirations, change a career or do the thing that scares you the most. It's our one shot, this life, so really truly make it count. Kay Thompson told me once how she doesn't believe in regret. I said to her "That's because you've done everything." She said, "Exactly, my darling."I hope my fans really can run with that. Thank you Michael, you, as always, are a dream!

Visit ~


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

LIZA @ World Aid's Day is December 1, In New York City's Washington Square Park between 5:30 and 6:30 P.M.
World Aids Day this year is all about "Getting to Zero" by 2015: Zero Aids-related deaths, Zero new infections, and Zero discrimination. Unfortunately this goal cannot be realized as organizations slash their budgets in face of the economic crisis.

The Global Fund to fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria recently announced its intention to abandon the next round of funding due to a ten billion dollar shortfall. While services currently financed will continue with transitional finances, this means there will be no new funding possibilities until 2014. The announcement comes alongside a new report released by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and UNAIDS. The report revealed that increased access to HIV services resulted in a 15 percent reduction of new infections over the past decade, and a 22 percent decline in AIDS-related deaths in the last five years.

With around 34 million people worldwide living with HIV, the medical services and education campaigns that will suffer from these lower budgets are a dire problem. "There is now a very real possibility of getting ahead of the epidemic," said Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of WHO's HIV Department. "But this can only be achieved by both sustaining and accelerating this momentum over the next decade and beyond."

See what you can do to commemorate World Aids Day and show your support for HIV/AIDS funding after the jump...

The easiest way to show your support is by wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness. You can also raise funds by passing around a red ribbon collection box at your work, school, or community center.

You can also partake in the numerous World Aids Day events happening worldwide. In New York City's Washington Square Park between 5:30 and 6:30 P.M., celebrities including Kenneth Cole and Liza Minnelli will dim the lights of Washington Square Park's Centennial Arch in commemoration of the event. Housing Works will host a 7 p.m. screening of the film Untitled, by artist Jim Hodges with Carlos Marques da Cruz and Encke Kingrls. The film looks at the activism of AIDS' early years. You can also stop by the Bookstore Cafe to create a video message for the World AIDS Day Memorial Video Project, commemorating loved ones lost to AIDS.

In Dagenham, a suburb of London, check out the Go Viral Against HIV fashion and music show 6 P.M. December 2 at the Castle Green Conference Centre. The show will feature a runway catwalk, film, dance, and music. There will be models representing different countries and a live chat with outspoken HIV-positive individuals as well as health practitioners and community leaders. A screening of Kenyan film Unseen, Unsung, Unforgotten, will also take place.

For more information on how you can participate in World Aids Day, click here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Liza Minnelli Gets Behind Drag Troupe!
Comments (8)
Categories: Drag Queens
Liza Minnelli loves the gays--and let's not dregde up another "Yeah, she marries them" joke--so it's no surprise that in the '70s, she hooked up with Dzi Croquettes, a Brazilian theater troupe of glammed up, half naked, muscle-and-feathers-sporting folks who made a sensation.
In Brazil, they went against the dictatorship government, promoting freedom and homosexuality with every bump, and in Paris, they were embraced by the fabulous, the famous, and the artsy who thrilled to their energy, originality, and samba moves.
And their godmother was Liza.
In the new documentary, DZI Croquettes, Liza says, "It was so kind of avant garde."
She pronounces "avant garde" with a really thick, phlegmy French accent that's sort of fabulous.
"They were constantly outrageous--I just loved it!" she adds, eyes glowing.
Liza applauded them, promoted them, and even learned dance moves from them.
As she recalls it, discovering her love of Brazilian music "was almost like I found my own heartbeat."
Gosh, I'd love to find mine! Any ideas on how to be as eternally positive as Liza?
And how can we start some American Croquettes?
Liza Minnelli surrounded by members of Dzi Croquettes in 1974

Monday, November 21, 2011

BWW TV: First Look at Liza Minnelli & Sam Harris in 'Schmoolie & Minnooli'! (TV Content)

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Liza Minnelli My Leg is BROKEN in 3 Places!!!

Broadway star Liza Minnelli breaks her leg in three places after tripping over her pet dog

By Jade Watkins
Last updated at 9:14 PM on 21st November 2011

Award-winning Broadway star Liza Minnelli has broken her leg in three places.
The injury was sustained after the 65-year-old star tripped over one of her dogs, according to TMZ.
The American singer and actress was seen being wheeled around New York City in a wheelchair with her leg in a cast, over the weekend.

And yesterday, she was carried from the device to a deckchair by two muscly men as she took to the stage for the Schmoolie & Minnooli in concert at Birdland, NYC.
Liza has already undergone three major surgeries for other injuries endured in the past.
She's notched up two hip replacements and last year received a new knee.
The legendary performer once described herself as the Tin Man from The Wizard Of Oz, on account of all of her injuries.

'I like to say that on the top half I'm the daughter of Dorothy; on the bottom, I'm the daughter of the Tin Man,' she said.
Her knee-replacement surgery took place last year, in a New York hospital.
'Minnelli, who has been dancing on stage since she was a teenager, is 63,' her rep told People magazine at the time. 'She is expected to make a full recovery.'
In 2000, Liza also suffered from Viral encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) caused by an infected mosquito bite.

It left Liza unable to walk and talk.
Doctors predicted that she would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair and perhaps never be able to speak again.
But the following year she surprised everyone, when she returned to the stage in 2001 with longtime friend Michael Jackson to perform at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
In her long-spanning career Liza has won three Tony awards, an Emmy, two Golden Globes, a Grammy Legend award and an Oscar.

Meanwhile, in her personal life, Liza has been married (and divorced) four times.
Her first marriage was to Australian-born Peter Allen, whom she exchange vows with in 1967.
After just seven years together the couple divorced on July 24, 1974.
The same year she tied the knot with producer and director Jack Haley, Jr.
Their union lasted for just under five years, with the couple announcing their divorce in April 1979.
Just 10 months later, Liza married stage manager and sculptor Mark Gero.
The union was her longest lasting 12 years.
In 2002 she embarked upon her fourth ('and last') marriage to music producer David Gest.
The wedding, with Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Martine McCutcheon as witnesses, and the stomach-turning post-vows kiss in which Gest all but swallowed Liza whole, set the seal on the marriage that followed.
It ended in 2007 amid lurid and unsubstantiated allegations of abuse on both sides.
He claimed she beat him up, and she accused him of plotting to have her dog put down.
The Broadway star has never had any children.

Helping hand: Liza Minnelli is seen being helped onstage two muscly men at her concert Schmoolie & Minnooli in New York yesterday after breaking her leg

Accident: The injury was sustained after the 65-year-old star tripped over one of her dogs

Before the break: Liza performed live at the Olympia in Paris this July

Read more:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

LIZA & SAM @ Birdland ~ SOLD OUT! Word is that this event is already sold out.
Liza will appear with Sam Harris at Birdland in NYC (315 West 44th Street), as a part of the "Broadway at Birdland" series.  The two concerts (Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. & Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.) are titled "Schmoolie & Minnooli."

SOLD OUT! Liza Minnelli & Sam Harris @ (BIRDLAND)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Liza - All That Jazz - Live

Goldie Hawn & Liza Minnelli - All That Jazz

Goldie & Liza Together 1980 - The Other Woman.wmv

LIZA MINNELLI -- "lucky lady" 1975 -- "the man in love" italy2008 -- by...

Liza Minnelli Aznavour MinnelliDVD Rip

Liza_Minnelli-Lucky_Lady (1975) Full Movie!

LOVE LIZA ~ Speedy Recovery! Liza Minnelli - Liza Minnelli 'Undergoes Surgery For Broken Foot'
Veteran entertainer Liza Minnelli has undergone surgery after breaking her foot, according to a U.S. report.
The 65 year old is said to have sustained the injury over the weekend (05-06Nov11), and as a result she pulled out of attending the Police Athletic League's Women of the Year event in New York on Monday (07Nov11).
Editors at the New York Daily News report the ceremony's host, Liz Smith, told the audience at the Pierre Hotel that Minnelli had vowed to return to the prize-giving next year (12).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jim Caruso's Broadway at Birdland concert series will present Liza Minnelli and Sam Harris in "Schmoolie & Minnooli," Sunday November 20 at 6pm and Monday, November 21 at 7pm. Billy Stritch musical directs.
Tickets are $75, $50, $40 with a $10 food/drink minimum per person. For tickets and more information, visit 212-581-3080 or
Minnelli first attracted critical acclaim for her dramatic performances in the movies The Sterile Cuckoo (1969),Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970) and Arthur (1981). Minnelli rose to international stardom for her appearance as Sally Bowles in the 1972 film version of the Broadway musical Cabaret, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.  Since then, Minnelli has became one of the most versatile, highly regarded and best-selling entertainers in television, beginning with Liza with a Z in 1972, and on stage in the Broadway productions of Flora the Red Menace, The Act and The Rink. Minnelli also toured internationally and did shows such as Liza Minnelli: At Carnegie Hall, Frank, Liza & Sammy: The Ultimate Event, and Liza Live from Radio City Music Hall. She starred in Liza's Back, in 2002. She had guest appearances in the sitcom Arrested Development and had a small role in the movie The OH in Ohio, while continuing to tour internationally. In 2008/09, she performed the Broadway show Liza's at The Palace...! which earned a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event. Minnelli has won a total of three Tony Awards awards, including a Special Tony Award, an Oscar, an Emmy Award, two Golden Globes and a Grammy Legend Award for her contributions and influence in the recording field.
Harris gained acclaim and became best known for his winning rendition of the song "Over the Rainbow" on Star Search. "Over the Rainbow" has since become his signature song. He went onto record the top 40 hit "Sugar Don't Bite," in 1984 and has since become a multi-million selling recording artist with nine studio albums to his credit. He has toured extensively in concert and has played to sold-out audiences at major venues including New York's Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheater and London's West End. He has appeared with the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra, at the White House and has sung on a variety of television specials and live productions. On Broadway, he received a Drama Desk nomination for his role in the Tommy Tune-directed revival of Grease, and a Drama League Award as well as Tony, Outer Critic's Circle and Drama Desk Award nominations for his work in Cy Coleman's Tony nominated musical The Life. He's also appeared on Broadway in Mel Brooks' Tony Award winning musical The Producers, in the national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and in the musicals Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, Hair, and Pippin. He also starred in self-penned shows Hardcopy, Different Hats, Revival and his critically acclaimed show, SAM. Harris' most recent theatrical outing was the film-to-musical adaptation of The First Wives Club seen in a limited run at San Diego's The Old Globe Theatre in the summer of 2009. Film credits include In the Weeds (2000), the documentary Little Man (2005) and "Elena Undone" (2010). Harris co-created the television series Down to Earth (1984, which ran for 4 years and 104 episodes). He was a series regular on The Class (2006-2007 - Perry Pearl). Harris is also credited on "Rules of Engagement," (Jackie, recurring, 2009), The Wayne Brady Show (2003 - Actor, 1 episode) and the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration (2001, music supervisor).

Read more:

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Liza Minnelli - Boys and Girls Like You and Me

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Liza Minnelli takes Toronto ~ ...And then we have a moment backstage.
Thirty seconds after my phone interview with Liza Minnelli came to an end, I got a call at my desk.
"I have Liza back for you," said her assistant, at which point the star got on the phone to tell me that she really enjoyed our conversation and wanted to meet me. I actually didn't believe it was going to happen, even though she told me who to ask for backstage.
I planned to give it a try after her performance last night. Fortunately, given that when you meet a star you usually llike to say something warm and toasty – the show was pretty damned good.
She can't sing like she used to – most of the power is gone. But she's figured out how to solve that problem. She got through Cabaret – gotta have it, after all – by acting the song more than singing it. And it was a bravura performance. She understands self-parody, taking a comic pause after the lyric "That's what comes of too much pills and liquor" to reference her own battle with addiction.
And she does honour her gay fans, which I estimate made up about a third of the audience, singing a poignant song by Charles Aznavour called What Makes A Man A Man and introducing it by noting its bravery in honouring people's right to be who they are.
But it was the new material from Confessions (Warner) that really scored from a musical standpoint. They're in a key she can handle and she brings a huge amount of emotion to every word. Her a capella version of I'll Be Seeing You during the encore was a knockout.
The band, led by the brilliant pianist/music director Billy Strich, was sensational and super-tight, as they should be, given that most of them have been with Minnelli for over two decades. And though I wouldn't say there was any high stepping, the star still can shake it.
After the show I decided I'd see if I could wrangle same face time backstage and, while I didn't exactly sail through, I did finally get into the green room to pay my respects. Minnelli was relaxed and down to earth – she was even wearing sensible shoes.
Oct 31, 2011 at 08:45 AM

Sunday, October 30, 2011

H A P P Y H A L L O W E E N !

Liza Minnelli plays Toronto's Roy Thompson Hall ~ ON STAGE / Crowd welcomes the legend back to town
Xtra staff / Toronto / Friday, October 28, 2011
Liza Minnelli was welcomed back to Toronto by a friendly crowd at Roy Thompson Hall on Oct 28.

The singing and acting legend's performance in Cabaret won her an Academy Award for best Actress. She has also won a Grammy, Tony and Emmy Award.

Her storied past of love and loss made for some comedic moments when she introduced a song from Chicago sung by Roxie Heart, who was charged with murdering her husband.

Minnelli, whose mother was Judy Garland, continues to draw in the gay crowd. Below are highlights from Friday's show.

Friday, October 28, 2011

LIZA ~ Still hungry after four decades in the biz...
LIZA MINNELLI at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe), Friday (October 28), 8 pm. $59.50-$199.50. 416-872-4255, See listing.
Music Feature
Liza Minnelli
Still hungry after four decades in the biz
How does someone survive four decades in the brutal entertainment business? Song-and-dance legend Liza Minnelli – winner of Tonys, Grammys and an Emmy and an Oscar – has two secrets: never do the same thing twice, and trust your audience.
“I don’t think of the business as brutal, actually,” she says over the phone from her home in New York City, sounding so excited she can barely catch her breath. “I always think, ‘Oh, that might be interesting. Ooh, no I’ve already done that – let’s do it another way.’”
That’s the approach she takes to Confessions (Universal), her disc of standards, the kind of project that’s not so easy to pull off. It works because Minnelli’s voice is unique, riveting and smoky, still with that signature quaver but absolutely pitch perfect.
She makes each tune her own, she says, by rethinking the lyrics. A song like At Last, which Beyoncé seized on for her performance at President Obama’s inaugural ball, is completely transformed in Minnelli’s hands.
“Sometimes that song is sung in desperation,” she says. “At last,” she sings to me with an edge. “But I’ve never heard it sung, like, ‘Whew, this is great.’ She lets out a big sigh. “At last – with a calmness and a coolness and relief.”
The show she brings to Toronto Friday, which she says changes every time (she’s already made it to over 30 cities) will be an intimate one.
“When I put a show together, I’m looking at every single person in that audience,” she says, her tone eager and urgent. “There are wonderful stories for each song. Sometimes I tell them, sometimes I don’t. You can tell what an audience wants to hear. But you have to listen – you have to pay attention. It’s like a tennis game – back and forth.”
Minnelli’s always been acutely aware of how she’s perceived. She joined the cast of Arrested Development in 2004 as a woman struggling with balance, a self-parody, perhaps, since she’s always been seen as psychically frail. She says it was just plain funny.
“I knew it the minute I met the man who invented it (Mitchell Hurwitz) and we got along so well. The idea of her having such awful things happen to her, getting so dizzy and falling off camera. We came up with the idea together.”
Then there was her appearance in Sex And The City 2, in which she sings at Carrie's friend's wedding, a hilarious punchline to a guest’s question, “Can it get any gayer than this?”
Minnelli appreciates her queer audience but claims she doesn’t understand the term “gay icon.”
“I don’t get it, honestly. I guess it’s that they understand anyone who’s struggled in any kind of way. They’ve kind of gone through the same thing I have – trying to be heard on our own.”
She starred in the original version of the film Arthur with Dudley Moore, and didn’t bother seeing this year’s remake.
“People don’t seem to like the new version, so what’s the point of putting myself through that? I dismissed it because of my love for Dudley. I think it’s a mistake to try to recreate anything he’s done.”
And, no, she wasn’t too impressed with Rufus Wainwright’s idea of recreating her mother, Judy Garland’s, famous concert at Carnegie Hall.
“Why is a guy getting up there to recreate something that was so wonderful, so perfect? Is that really a tribute? I just thought, ‘That’s weird.’”
She’s always embraced her extraordinary pedigree, which also includes her dad, film director Vincente Minnelli (Gigi). Her voice, now that she’s in her 60s, sounds more like Garland’s than ever. And, like a filmmaker, she supervises everything about her show: the set, the costumes, the lights.
“I got my drive from my mom and my dreams from my dad.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Liza Minnelli's weekend shows mark 46 years since her Sahara debut in 1965

Mike Weatherford | INTERVIEWS

By Mike Weatherford
Posted: Oct. 7, 2011 | 1:59 a.m.
She started dancing on Las Vegas stages at age 11. And she still does, even if it means recording an album in bed to give a knee time to heal.
Liza Minnelli is a Las Vegas legacy, her shows set for today and Saturday at the Las Vegas Hilton marking 46 years since her Sahara debut in late 1965. But her mother, Judy Garland, pulled her onstage and introduced her to a Flamingo audience in 1957.
"I danced. To 'Swanee,' " Minnelli says by phone during a rehearsal break. "I'd get up and dance, that's what I did. From about 7 to, I guess 12, she got me up onstage. I always danced, because that was my first love."
Minnelli's main love soon became musical theater. Las Vegas might never have seen much of her if her Broadway debut, "Flora the Red Menace," had run more than 87 performances. Seems the critics loved it more than the public.
Minnelli, the youngest winner of a leading actress Tony Award at 19, was about to become one of the youngest showroom headliners in Las Vegas.
"Somebody said, 'You have to do a nightclub act.' And I said, 'What do you mean? Huh?'... I was too young for that. I was underage. I couldn't even walk through the casino."
But it turned out some agents already had booked her at the Sahara without even making sure it was what she wanted to do. "I said, 'Oh, we gotta put something together.' "
Fortunately, she had the help of John Kander and Fred Ebb, the songwriting team who created "Flora" before going on to bigger successes with "Cabaret" and "Chicago."
She remembers Ebb saying, "All right, we'll do a nightclub act."
"It was so lucky that he did it, because he wrote 'Liza with a Z' and kind of gave me my identity."
Minnelli's career was thereafter tied to the duo. Her concerts are synonymous with what she calls "acting songs," and a few of those tunes Kander and Ebb wrote for Broadway (the "Cabaret" title song) or movies (the theme from "New York, New York") became standards.
"It's nice to look at the songs that my heritage has left. Those songs are my songs. It's just great!"
The Hilton shows will have a six-piece band, smaller than Minnelli fans have seen her with before. It's the tone of "Confessions," the dialed-down, whispery piano jazz album of two years ago, which will get some attention in this weekend's shows.
"I just had my knee operated on, and I didn't have anything to do, so I just had to lie in bed for six weeks," she explains. "So I said, 'Let's do something. Let's figure out some things we want to do.' "
She and longtime pianist Billy Stritch began recording standards in the spirit of sing-around-the-piano sessions that have drawn everyone from Tony Bennett to Janet Jackson to her home. (Last month, Stritch and Jim Caruso hosted the like-minded "Cast Party" for the local entertainment community at Alexis Park.)
"We were just recording things that we liked. And then (Decca Records) heard it, and they liked it so much they wanted to put it out. ... But I sang that whole album from my bed!" she says with a laugh.
She's been up and running since then, including attending a film festival in Vladivostok, Russia ("which is beyond Siberia!"), to support her friend Rock Brynner.
"I've been traveling and doing all kinds of things that have nothing to do with show business but have to do with my life," she says. At 65, she paces her performance schedule, and the big things go hand in hand with "catching up with friends and straightening my house up, walking my dogs, all that good stuff."
It doesn't bother her that the Las Vegas of today no longer much resembles the Vegas she grew up with. "Well you have to tap into your curiosity," she says, of "how it's changed and how the people who are going now in 20 years will remember it and say, 'Wow, what's happened to it?' "
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ or 702-383-0288.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: Liza Minnelli gives breathless, charming performance in Reno

Written by
Mimi Beck Knudsen
Lest anyone think this review is a pan of Liza Minnelli’s performance Wednesday night at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, let me make this clear: I love Liza. The near-capacity audience at her Reno show loves Liza, and Liza loves her fans. Some love her for her talent, some for her support of gay rights, some for simply being Judy’s little girl. I love Liza for two main reasons: Sally Bowles and Lucille 2.
Sally Bowles was Liza’s character in “Cabaret,” the 1972 musical that made Judy Garland’s little girl a star and whose soundtrack I wore out. Thirty-two years later, Minnelli was a recurring guest star on “Arrested Development,” where she played caricature of herself: Lucille Austero, friend and neighbor to the matriarch of the Bluth family, Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter), and girlfriend to the Bluth’s youngest son, Buster (Tony Hale). Liza was hilarious as Lucille 2, and her good-natured willingness to look ridiculous at her own expense cemented her place in my heart.

At 65 years old, and after throat, hip and knee surgeries, Liza took the stage at the GSR, breathlessly gushing how wonderful Reno, the GSR, the Grand Theatre and the audience were. She remained breathless for the entire show — a combination, I image, of age and altitude.

Wearing her signature black slacks and sequined black tunic top, along with a long red scarf, Lisa opened with “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” She was accompanied by a six-piece orchestra, which sounded like it was three times that size. Her music director, Billy Stritch, was at the piano, and later in the show joined Liza for a duet of “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.”

With a set emphasizing ballads, some rather obscure, Liza also sprinkled in her standards, such as “Liza with a Z” — which I bet I hadn’t heard 40 years — and “But the World Goes ‘Round.”

Unfortunately, Liza had to sing the two songs for which she is best known — and these are the two she shouldn’t have. With their respective glory notes, originally held for what seemed like forever, “Cabaret” and “New York, New York” are now out of Liza’s range. Nevertheless, both songs received standing ovations and shouts of, “We love you, Liza,” from the adoring audience.

Throughout the evening, Liza sprinkled in stories of her amazing show business life, like when “Uncle Frank” (Sinatra) asked permission to sing “New York, New York” and the time she filled in for an ailing Gwen Verdon on stage in “Chicago.”

My two favorite musical moments of Wednesday’s show were Liza’s rendition of the Peggy Lee song, “He’s a Tramp,” from Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp,” and Liza’s amazing a cappella encore, “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Although the audience had started to shuffle out of the Grand Theater, the encore was a singular moment — a church-like silence descended on the showroom as Liza bid her fans adieu in her own
incomparable way.