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!

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