Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Liza Minnelli brings her 'Confessions' tour to the Ferguson Center Friday, Oct. 12th.

October 07, 2012|By David Nicholson, | 757-247-4794
Liza Minnelli has a cure for stage fright: surround yourself with talent.
"The greatest gift I got from my parents was the ability to recognize talented people," said Minnelli in a recent telephone interview. The legendary performer brings her "Confessions" tour to the Ferguson Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 12.
Surrounding herself with talented people came easily to a woman who grew up with equally famous parents — singer Judy Garland and film director Vincent Minnelli — who prepared her in many ways for an entertainer's life. And her godfather, lyricist Ira Gershwin, instilled in her a love for lyrics and classic songs.
The title of her tour is based on the "Confessions" CD she released in 2010. It was her first studio recording in 15 years and in some ways was inspired by her years growing up around the family piano.
"When I was a kid, my father would always play music in the house," Minnelli told USA Today when "Confessions" was first released. "And I'd sit at the piano at my mother's parties or go to my godfather's house. That's how I first fell in love with songs, with lyrics."
Many of the songs on "Confessions" have a dreamy, romantic quality about them, the kind of song you'd hear at a piano bar late at night. When Minnelli was recovering from knee surgery, she got together with her long-time arranger, Billy Stritch, and recorded them. The songbook includes "He's a Tramp" by Sonny Burke and Peggy Lee, "Here I'll Stay" by Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner, and "You Fascinate Me So" by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh.
Minnelli's upcoming concert should be a little more low-key than her last visit to Hampton Roads, when she opened the Virginia Arts Festival season in 2010. She's bringing a smaller ensemble orchestra, and the material from "Confessions" has more of a cabaret feel about it.
"It's a smaller show with a six-piece orchestra," says Minnelli. "It's the most intimate show I've done in a while."
But at her recent concerts in South America — she played Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Rio — she also performed several of her signature tunes such as "Cabaret" and "New York New York."
Her constant companion, and the man who accompanies all of her appearances, is pianist/arranger Stritch. She first heard him at a piano bar in New York.
"Billy was playing at a place called Don't Tell Mama," she recalls. "His chords were brilliant. I walked up to him and said, "My name is Liza Minnelli...would you come with me for the rest of my life?'"
A man who had an even longer musical association with Minnelli was composer/arranger Marvin Hamlisch. She took especially hard his sudden death in August at age 68.
"It's such a shock that he joined the choir," she says. "We were pals, and he was so funny. Sometimes we would just go out and laugh. There was no one like him."
Hamlisch was the musical director of a series of 24 sold-out concerts she gave at the Winter Garden theater in New York in 1974. The event followed a remarkable 1973 when she had won an Oscar for the film, "Cabaret," and an Emmy for her TV special, "Liza With a Z."

The Winter Garden concerts were recorded and released, but the recording had be withdrawn. Minnelli had included songs from "Cabaret" and she ran into contractual problems because those songs also appeared on film score release. The concert recording, "Legends of Broadway: Liza Minnelli Live at the Winter Garden," was finally released earlier this year.
In addition to Hamlisch, the "talent" that surrounded Minnelli on that occasion included choreographer Bob Fosse, and the composer-lyricist team John Kander and Fred Ebb.
"Was I scared on opening night — not at all!" Minnelli says emphatically. "I had all these wonderful people around me."
Want to go?What: Liza Minnelli
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12
Where: Ferguson Center for the Arts, Christopher Newport University, Newport News
Tickets: $67-$147 available online at

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