Liza Minnelli plays the Bardavon 1869 Opera House Gala on Friday in Poughkeepsie. / Darryl Bautista/Poughkeepsie Journal
John W. Barry
Osami Matsuzawa of Staatsburg moved to the United States from Japan and will never forget seeing the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty for the first time in 1968.
He links that moment to entertainer Liza Minnelli.
“ ‘New York, New York,’ ” he said outside of the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie on Friday evening, referring to the song with which Minnelli, along with Frank Sinatra, is closely associated. “My blood gets warmed up.”
Matsuzawa spoke of his fondness for Minnelli about an hour before she took the stage at the Bardavon for the historic Market Street venue’s annual gala. Backed by a seven-piece band, Minnelli’s Friday-night performance was her first in Poughkeepsie.
Money raised at the gala funds Bardavon programs that cannot support themselves, including school residencies, symphonic events and senior citizen programs. Each of the last two Bardavon galas — Tony Bennett performed last year; Diana Ross performed in 2011 — raised $150,000.
Minnelli has won four Tony Awards, an Oscar, the Grammy Legend Award, two Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy. She is well known for her work in film, having appeared in the 1972 musical “Cabaret” and the 1981 comedy “Arthur.” And she is, of course, the daughter of actress Judy Garland.
“I’m a huge fan of her mother’s,” said Donna Doremus of the Town of Poughkeepsie. “Judy is my queen. I love her. She’s the best entertainer ever. It translates over to Liza because I’ve followed Liza ever since she was born. She’s great, too — one of the greatest entertainers ever. It’s just unbelievable that she’s here in Poughkeepsie.”
Doremus has seen Minnelli perform, but, she said emphatically, “not in my own hometown.”
Doremus said Minnelli’s stage presence is “phenomenal. She’s like a tornado on stage. She’s the best.”
Peggy Matsuzawa of Staatsburg, Osami Matsuzawa’s wife, said Minnelli brings back memories of “the better days.
“The good days,” she said, “when music was real music; the easier days; I think going back to when she was young and seeing her with her mother. It’s when music was music and you listened to the words.”
Rose Sasso of the Town of Wappinger smiled broadly when asked what Minnelli meant to her.
“She’s a legend,” Sasso said. “Just her whole career of singing and acting.”
John W. Barry: email@example.com, 845-437-4822; Twitter: @JohnBarryPoJo