Sunday, August 31, 2008

Liza with a Zeal!

We went to see Liza Minnelli not knowing what to expect. In the last year I read news reports of her collapsing onstage, I saw some youtube video footage of her not doing well. It made you think she was again in the shadow of her mother, fighting against demons, losing the battle.

BUT... last night in Hammond, Indiana at the Horseshoe(?) Casino (where they STILL smoke inside - yuck!) Minnelli was in absolute TOP form. I was thrilled. To hear that familiar clarinet begin playing the opening of “Maybe This Time” which she just sang as good as if they were going for a second take in the filming of the movie. I liked it that when she sang (referring to romantic interests) that she was hoping her new man would be, “not a loser anymore, like the last time and the time before..” She rolled her eyes while singing this line. Very funny. Good to see that she has a great sense of humor about herself. At the end of the song (and only the fourth or fifth song in the show) the audience was on it's feet, cheering.

She paid tribute to her godmother, entertainer, vocal arranger Kay Thompson (who worked at MGM in the 40's and wrote the Eloise books - based on Liza's childhood incidently)... she had four guys with her and they did this wonderful tight harmony and tight choreography ala nightclub shows from the 40's and 50's. TOTALLY up my alley. Loved it. Revelled in the fact that with Liza holding the ropes, you were truly seeing the real deal. The last in a line of Hollywood royalty. Stare hard, soak it in. Her voice, yes, it was challenged, notes were shaky, but it was this energy she had in her that just burst out of her. And as the show progressed, it got EVEN better. By the time the encore came and there she was “start spreadin' the news...” she was claiming her corner of the universe, with one of her trademark songs. (We had already been treated to “Cabaret” which again, was great). And there she was, belting out “New York, New York” and going for the key change and the place went wild. Hey! Screw oil, THERE'S our new energy source! Whatever it is she manages to pull up from out of nowhere could very well fuel jet planes and send them around the world a few times non-stop.

There may have been times in these last years, one would think it was time for her to throw in the towel, but with this new show, the Kay Thompson material, she saddled up the horse and climbed back up on top. WE WERE JUST THRILLED. And I am speaking for myself, Jason and the audience around us. Afterwards, there was a buzz in the air and also, maybe it was just me, but a kind of shock that she pulled off what she had just pulled off. This is a good reason to truly not buy into anything you read about. If you wanna know how she's doing, go to the source itself.

Jason said that at the end of the show, an older woman was crying saying that it was like seeing her mother onstage again. It was. It wasn't just that though, it was seeing the heritage. Always being compared to her immortal mother, you can see WHY when you see her in person. There IS an uncanny resemblance... or is it just that her Mom was WITH her. I'd like to think that just as Liza as a child watched her mother from the wings, that NOW her mother is returning the favor and then helplessly, caught up in the excitement, joins her.

When you see Liza on stage, you realize that this is her family trade. A long line of performers... her Mom, her Dad, her aunts (the Gumm sisters) and her grandparents who were vaudevillians.
Not to mention her godparents (Thompson and this composer guy... ever hear of IRA GERSHWYN?! And all of her parents comrades and friends... you know, Uncle Frank, Uncle Sammy, all the great greats.

And so with her, you saw it all... vaudeville, film, stage, broadway, nightclubs all accumulated now into this sixty two year old woman, thinned down, scissor legged again, eyes dazzling again... Liza with a ZEAL! Yay!!! Fireworks, fourth of July, America... it was HER Olympic category... and she was winning more medals as we rooted for her all the way.

Thank God.

So needless to say, I had a VERY good time.
:- )