"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