Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Friday, June 8, 2012

Jim Caruso on Cabaret and Liza Minnelli
By Laura Meltzer
June 8, 2012

photo: Joseph Marzullo
Life is a cabaret for Jim Caruso, whether hosting “Cast Party” at Birdland or performing alongside the iconic Liza Minnelli.

Back Stage talked with the entertainer at the Actor’s Fund Benefit on Thursday, where he discussed the world of cabaret.

Most of your performance career has been hosting cabarets. Why have you mainly focused on solo entertainment, instead of story- based performance? 
Jim Caruso: I came to New York with a vocal trio called “Wise Guys” and that’s really where I started making great inroads and it’s kind of snowballed from there. I would love to do more Broadway. Billy [Stritch] and I did “Liza’s At the Palace” three years ago, which was thrilling. I was so much younger then and it was just the thrill of my life to be at the Palace, sing Kay Thompson arrangements, and to have Billy there with the piano and giving me the “thumbs up,” with Liza. It was a thrill. I’m opened to all venues. 

What did you learn about cabaret performance from working with Liza?
What I’ve learned from Liza is maybe nothing that she’s said verbally, but watching her through the years she’s always going forward. She always has the next project and looking to the next job, the next idea. She has a million ideas at the same time. I think that’s a great impetus for me to move forward. She’s been a great friend for 20 years. She definitely has been a huge influence on Billy and my career.

You’ve led a versatile career including journalism, Broadway, and nightlife entertainment. If you had to choose one, what would you choose and why?
If I could do “Liza’s At the Palace” for the rest of my life I would be very happy. It was an incredible job and for all the reasons I told you. The most fun ever, but you can’t. Still, “Cast Party” is a blast, and to be able to celebrate new talent all over the country, we do it in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Chicago. I think I’d pick “Cast Party.”

What is the best way for a young performer to make their way into the cabaret world?
Cabaret is a great place to create a persona as a performer, which I think is rather important. If you’re also doing theater, it…gives you more of a sense of yourself when you walk in to an audition. It’s a wonderful community of friends and people who are creating themselves onstage and really magical moments in small venues. 

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