Monday, April 23, 2012

Rant #722: Liza's Back ... and Blue

On Saturday night, my wife and I went to see the legendary Liza Minnelli at NYCB Bank Theater in Westbury, Long Island, or whatever they call the Westbury Music Fair now. It has had so many name changes in recent years that heaven knows what its real name is now. In these parts, all you have to say is that you saw a performer at Westbury, and everyone knows exactly the place that you are talking about. Anyway, back to the show ... After a brief opening act, Liza came out, and the crowd went wild. Having been doing this for about 50 years, the crowd pretty much knows what to expect from her during a concert, but there were a couple of surprises during this show ... and they weren't good surprises. First of all, the show had been postponed twice since December because of various ailments that Minnelli has gone through. The main one was that she fell over her dog, and broke her ankle. At 66, she hasn't been in the best of health recently to begin with, but she was hobbling through this show. It looked like she had a lot of trouble walking and moving around, was completely winded after--and in the middle--of every song, and needed a chair to sit in during most of the performance. She was also having a wardrobe malfunction of another kind--her pants kept falling, and she had to constantly pull them up. But the crowd was appreciative throughout the show--they are as devoted an audience as any I've seen at any concert. She sang just about all her big songs--"Liza with a Z," "Cabaret," and "New York, New York" (still the best version of this song, sorry Frank S.), but she was really, really laboring through the 90-minute show. At one point, I think it was on the song "This Time," as she was building to the crescendo, she actually stopped herself, the orchestra (led by long-time collaborator Billy Stritch) and the crowd mid-stream as she caught her breath, and took a long chug of water. She then returned to the actual point that she stopped the song, picked it right up, and finished it. I have never seen that happen at any Liza concert--and any concert in general--that I have ever been in attendance at. Never. But she did it flawlessly, and the crowd rode it as if it were a brand new Cadillac. The crowd loved it all. She learned from her mom, Judy Garland, how to milk an audience for everything it's worth, and whether feigned or the real thing, she did it here too. But the crowd--lots of older, 65 and up people, mixed in with some young 'uns (like myself and my wife) and several gay men, more than I could every remember at a Liza concert on Long Island--ate it up like it was a five-course dinner. They loved every pant, every swig, every misstep that Minnelli took. Look, she is a real trouper. I can't figure out why she continues to do this, other than it probably pays her quite well. But she is past the time when she could do this well. Due to her various ailments, she can't dance, much less walk, and she is constantly out of breath. I go for the spectacle, and there is plenty of it when she is on stage. My wife, and the thousands of others at this show and others she performs, go because they really do love the lady and her talent and her career--and the many, many ups and downs she has had. She remains a credible actress, and when she can get her pipes to work, she can still sing like nobody's business. Maybe those areas are directions for her to pursue in the future, not as a live performer, though. Good for her for everything she has done and everything she will do in the future, but Liza, "Maybe This Time" the time may be right. Bow out on stage before you conk out.


  1. Seems like Liza needs (at the very least) an extended period of rest and rehabilitation. If she's surrounded by "yes" people who keep telling her it's OK to keep performing (after continually seeing shows like the one you viewed), then she needs to drop those hangers-on and start fresh.

    I've noticed your Blogger paragraph problems, Larry. Have you tried writing/editing your posts in "Compose"? I switched to it after "HTML" failed me the paragraph department. A quick preview showed me the change helped.

  2. I have been writing them in Compose, and this is what I get. I will try again to rectify the problem. Maybe it's because I'm using a Mac, I don't know.

    About Liza, I am sure it is a good payday when she performs live, but she is surrounded by "Yes" people when she performs in concert--the very audience that pays darn good money to see her. The take to her like bees to honey, and they don't see what I see. I see a talented woman who really needs to reassess how she is going to continue her career. Hopefully, not like this.

  3. What didn't work at all yesterday works today!

    Thanks for reminding me to try again.



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