Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Liza Minnelli Stepping Out! 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Liza Minnelli brings old favorites, and a few surprises to IP Casino

Liza Minnelli brings old favorites, and a few surprises to IP Casino on the Gulf Coast

'Liza Minnelli in Concert with Billy Stritch' played to a near sell-out crowd on Friday, July 24, 2015, at IP Casino in Biloxi, Miss. (Photos by Steven T. Lawrence)

Liza Minnelli promised old favorites and a few surprises for her show on Friday night (July 24) at IP Casino, Resort & Spa in Biloxi, Miss. She delivered both to a house packed with starstruck fans.
While she no longer hits and holds the high notes, the actress in Minnelli, 69, is still the master of using a look, a shrugged shoulder and a turn of phrase to carry the night. And, with a well-placed blast from a horn and a well-timed spotlight, she creates a sleight-of-hand magic show of a cabaret act.
Dressed in a shimmering, black, off-the-shoulder tunic and pants, set off with a long fuchsia scarf, Minnelli hit the stage and her fans leapt to their feet, giving her a standing ovation before she sang a note.
She dragged a high-boy director's chair center stage and apologized for sitting, explaining she had recently taken a spill in her bathroom, noting that her first thought while lying prone on the floor was: "How am I gonna dance?"
The Biloxi show, "Liza Minnelli in Concert with Billy Stritch," is her first performance in more than year, and one of only a few planned for the remainder of 2015. She has lived through a lifetime of publicly reported personal travails, including, most recently, a stint in a Malibu rehab facility in March, only to be reborn and find her way back into the spotlight.
"I'm sorry. I'm nervous," she told the audience Friday night, but she needn't have been. Cries of "You're awesome," "You're fabulous," and "We love you, Liza" reached her repeatedly from the darkened theater.
"I wish you could feel what I feel right now, which is extremely relieved," she said. "I feel like I'm home."
Her vulnerability -- she often paused to sip water and catch her breath a bit -- is matched by her moxie. When fans called out "Sing 'Over the Rainbow,'" she deadpanned, "It's been done." A call for "Money Makes the World Go Round," was met with a sly, "I'll say," before she moved on to her planned set.
The just under two-hour show, which was kicked off by a 20-minute set featuring Minnelli's friend and musical director Stritch, was energized by a tight, seven-piece, pop jazz band, which backed her and covered for her when she needed it.
Two guests, Cortes Alexander and Jim Caruso, joined her on stage for "Basin Street Blues" and serenaded her with a re-imagining of "You are My Sunshine."
Minnelli has been in public figure all her life, starting at the age of 2 when she appeared with her mother, Judy Garland, in the 1949 film "In the Good Old Summertime." The daughter of director Vincente Minnelli also has earned four Tonys, a Grammy and an Emmy.
I wish you could feel what I feel right now, which is extremely relieved. I feel like I'm home." -- Liza Minnelli
She alludes to her starry upbringing by dropping lines, such as "My godfather Ira Gershwin and his brother, George, wrote this song," before launching into "Our Love Is Here to Stay."

Minnelli is perhaps best known for her Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning performance in 1972's "Cabaret." That title song, as well as the theme to "New York, New York" (the 1977 Martin Scorsese movie), are her signature tunes.
She delivered both, as well as a mix of standards and personal favorites, including, of course, Kander and Ebb's "Liza with a Z" and Charles Aznavour's gay pride anthem, "What Makes a Man a Man." And she rewarded fans with emotional deliveries of "Maybe This Time" and "But the World Goes Round."
Her encore, Cole Porter's sentimental "Every Time We Say Goodbye," closed the night, with Minnelli leaving the stage surrounded by Stritch and the band -- and with applause ringing in her ears.
By Ann Maloney, | The Times-Picayune 
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on July 25, 2015 at 12:30 AM, updated July 25, 2015 at 7:56 AM

Liza Minnelli thrills Biloxi audience in triumphant return to the stage

By Warren Kulo | 
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on July 25, 2015 at 11:10 AM, updated July 25, 2015 at 11:15 AM

BILOXI, Mississippi -- It may have come as a surprise to some that Liza Minnelli would choose Biloxi, Mississippi -- of all places -- to make her return to live performing after more than a year away.
In the end, however, it appears to have been a very wise decision.
A wildly enthusiastic and adoring crowd which filled Studio A at the IP Casino in Biloxi greeted the legendary songstress as she took to the stage Friday night.
The show, entitled "Liza Minnelli in Concert with Billy Stritch," opened with a 30-minute set by Stritch, Minnelli's musical director, but a gifted performer in his own right.
Stritch proved to be far more than a "warm-up act," enthralling the audience with both his singing and jazz piano in performing classics including The Best Is Yet To ComeA Nightengale Sang In Barkley Square and the Gershwin standard Who Could Ask For Anything More.
And then, right at 8:30 p.m., the Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy-winning performer walked onto the stage to a thunderous ovation, acknowledging to her fans to being a bit "nervous."
"I feel like I'm home, with my family," she said early on. Minnelli, as noted, had not performed in over a year and earlier this year had a well-publicized stay in a Malibu, Calif., rehab facility. She has battled substance abuse frequently throughout her life and has openly discussed the disease of alcoholism and her own experience "battling with her demons."
But the performance belied any nerves she might have felt. Minnelli opened the set with a mesmerizing rendition of the George and Ira Gershwin-penned Our Love Is Here To Stay, quickly demonstrating there are still few who can deliver a song like Liza Minnelli.
Throughout the show, fans yelled out to Minnelli. "We love you!" "You're the best!" "You're awesome!" were among the calls, with Minnelli frequently responding in kind.
Other called out song requests, as if in a local juke joint, but Minnelli, ever the professional, stuck to her set list -- with one exception. At one point during the latter half of the show, a fan called for Maybe This Time, prompting Minnelli to turn to Stritch and say "Let's do that."

Among the other Minnelli favorites she performed was Liza With A Z, with Minnelli, the daughter of American icon Judy Garland and director Vincent Minnelli, noting before the song her name was frequently mispronounced "Lisa" during the early stages of her career.
She also thrilled the south Mississippi audience with a performance of the New Orleans classic Basin Street Blues, accompanied by two "friends" who came up from the audience -- Cortes Alexander and Jim Caruso -- who remained on stage for a three-song set with Minnelli.
Perhaps as a nod to being a little rusty after her more than year-long layoff, Minnelli's set list was backloaded with most of her most iconic hits: Maybe This TimeThe World Goes RoundCabaret and New York, New York, a jazzy version of which closed out the scheduled performance to a raucous ovation as Minnelli left the stage.
It appeared the show was over. Many performers of Minnelli's generation and genre don't do encores. Some of the seven-piece ensemble which accompanied her were already putting instruments away.
But the crowd remained, even as house lights went up, applauding, cheering, and whistling. Suddenly, Minnelli reemerged, escorted by Alexander and Caruso, and delighted the crowd with a tear-inducing rendition of Cole Porter's Every Time We Say Goodbye, accompanied only by Stritch's wonderfully understated piano arrangement, and reminding all of her incomparable talent for interpreting a lyric.
Then, roughly 75 minutes after she began, Minnelli took her final bows alongside Stritch, Alexander, Caruso and the ensemble.
And, as she left the stage, it was difficult to tell who was more thrilled -- the audience, which continued to stand and cheer, or Minnelli herself, who beamed as she exited stage left.
Minnelli's "comeback" tour will resume with a trip to Europe for September dates at the
Palladium in London; Sheffield, England and Glasgow, Scotland, before returning to the U.S. for performances in Texas and Oklahoma.

Liza Minnelli Gives Her First Post-Rehab and Post-Surgery Concert

07/25/2015 AT 09:15 AM EDT
She's back! 

Three months after completing rehab for substance abuse legendary songstressLiza Minnelli, 69, gave her first public performance Friday at the IP Casino Resort & Spa in Biloxi, Mississippi. It was also the singer's first concert since completing back surgery in September. She sang her standards "Cabaret" and "New York, New York." 

"There's no performer like Liza," says her longtime accompanist Billy Stritch, who's worked with her since 1991. "It's so great to be back on the road with her. Every night onstage with her is a thrill." 

Friday night's appearance in Biloxi kicked off the first of a number of concerts she'll do this year.

The next concert will be Sept. 20 at the Palladium in London, followed by one Sept. 22 in Sheffield, England, and then Sept. 24 in Glasgow, Scotland. Upon her return to the U.S., she'll begin doing a new show she's calling "Great Day" and has concerts planned in Oklahoma and Texas. 

The performer has "been preparing for this for months," says a longtime friend. "She's feeling good and is eager to go back and see her fans." 
As a close friend recently told PEOPLE Minnelli, "is a survivor – she is incredibly brave."

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