Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

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.

No comments: