Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Memory: LIZA MINNELLI

When I graduated from high school, my gift from my dad (who'd recently separated from my mom) was this: tickets to see “Liza With a Z” at Playhouse Square.

I’ve been a fan of LM since I first saw her in CABARET. My dad and stepmother-to-be let me bring along Linda, a good friend at the time. I WAS SO EXCITED! It was the first live show I’d ever seen. The first celebrity--aside from old Arthur Godfrey and the famous Lipizzaner horses-- with whom I’d ever shared the same oxygen.

It was magical!! The strength of her amazing presence was equaled only by the sheer power of her voice. The audience ADORED her. More importantly, no one could miss the fact that Liza loved us back. I've seen a lot of live shows in the many years since, and no one can connect to an audience like Liza Minnelli.

Two of my favorite parts of the show were “Bye Bye Blackbird”--

--and “Ring Them Bells”:

Our seats, however, were so far up in the balcony that Liza was nothing but a whirling blur on the stage. So Linda and I hopped up, ran down to the orchestra level, and fought our way through the crowd (we weren't the only ones with this idea) for a place next to the stage itself. We were close enough to be sweated on by her. Close enough to touch her when she reached down to shake hands.

To this day, it’s one of the best, most memorable times of my life. Though not "musical theater" in the esoteric sense, the show definitely enhanced my enduring love for the stage.

Thanks, Dad and Mary.

Happy birthday, Liza!

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