Liza's at the Palace...
|Liza's at the Palace...|
December 3, 2008 -
January 4, 2009
|Liza's at the Palace...|
|Studio album by Liza Minnelli|
|Released||February 3, 2009|
|Genre||Traditional pop music
|Liza Minnelli chronology|
Liza's at the Palace... was a concert presented by Liza Minnelli at the Palace Theatre on Broadway from December 3, 2008 through January 4, 2009. It was produced by John Scher and Metropolitan Talent Presents.
It was directed and choreographed by Ron Lewis, with vocal arrangements by Kay Thompson and Billy Stritch. Minnelli performed with four dancer-singers: Cortes Alexander, Jim Caruso, Tiger Martina, and Johnny Rodgers. The concert contained songs written by Kander and Ebb, among others.
The first act included a revised version of a vaudeville tribute her mother once performed at the Palace. The second act included a "re-creation of [Kay] Thompson's celebrated nightclub act with the four Williams brothers".
Stephen Holden of The New York Times said, "From the moment Ms. Minnelli joins forces with a male singing and dancing quartet to resurrect parts of a famous nightclub act Thompson created in the late 1940s and early ’50s with the Williams Brothers, the Palace Theater blasts off into orbit. There it remains, deliriously spinning until the end of a 2-hour-20-minute show (with intermission) that leaves the star in a state of breathless exaltation. The end of the opening-night show on Wednesday found Ms. Minnelli panting, drenched in sweat, her hair matted, as if she had just finished running the New York marathon, which in a sense she had... I would love to report that Ms. Minnelli’s voice and physical agility have been magically restored to their former glory, but those days seem to be gone. On Wednesday night her voice was in tatters, her diction unsteady. When she belted, her wide vibrato wobbled to the breaking point. Most of her s’s were slurred sh’s. Frequently short of breath, she swallowed phrases. Many of her highest notes were dry, piercing caws. But there were still occasional moments of beautifully focused dramatic singing... As for movement, there were no kicks or even half-kicks, although Ms. Minnelli can still strut stealthily and sprawl across a director’s chair in sensual abandon... Once the show began to soar, though, Ms. Minnelli’s force of will became a triumph of spirit over flesh. As she insisted on doing what she can no longer do, her audacity was inspiring: her message was you do the best you can, and if you have to, fake it. She trusted the listener’s imagination to fill in the blanks."
In Variety, David Rooney observed, "In her return to Broadway after nearly 10 years’ absence, Minnelli had the opening-night audience in the palm of her hand from her first moment onstage - striking that signature, one-arm-pointed-skyward pose, appropriately framed by a giant pink triangle of light... [W]hat makes Minnelli a great entertainer when she’s firing on all cylinders is how hard she works for the audience’s love. And how much she clearly thrives on it. In an age in which so many female concert performers are overproduced automatons, deigning to be worshipped by their fans, Minnelli’s emotional give-and-take makes her a disarming relic... Sure, the voice is frayed and husky, the control wavers, many of the lyrics are slurred and the big belt at times hides behind the orchestra’s ample brass section to disguise the effort. But nobody who would buy a ticket to this show in the first place is going to care a whit. Minnelli’s charisma is undiminished and her vocals still have power, warmth and a startling ability to make every song personal."
Brian Scott Lipton of Theatermania.com stated, "To get the big questions out of the way, Minnelli's voice isn't what it was many years ago, but it's strong and powerful and mostly gets the job done, and she moves rather than really dances. But her skills as a performer, honed over five decades, and her genuineness and vulnerability make these shortcomings seem relatively unimportant."
Awards and nominations
Minnelli won the 2009 Independent Theatre Reviewers Association Award for Best Female Theatrical Performance and a Drama Desk Award "Special Award" for a "beloved American musical theater icon, for her enduring career of sustained excellence, and her glorious performance in Liza's at The Palace." The show also won the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event.
A 2-CD set with liner notes by Michael Feinstein was released on February 3, 2009 on Hybrid Recordings. It debuted at #42 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart and at #3 on the Top Cast Albums chart, but failed to chart on the Billboard 200. The album was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album on December 2, 2009.
Public television special
Celebrating the one year anniversary of Liza Minnelli’s Tony Award-winning performance “Liza's at the Palace…,” American Public Television (APT) will distribute the long awaited special to public television stations nationwide beginning late November 2009 (check local listings). Filmed in the Hollywood Theatre at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on September 30 and October 1, 2009, the program will feature material performed during the New York engagement and will capture many of her greatest hits and an affectionate tribute to her godmother, the late Kay Thompson, who was a groundbreaking singer-dancer, songwriter, vocal arranger and musical director/vocal coach at MGM Studios.
The concert premiered on the cable network HDNET and was shown three times - November 15, 16 and 22, 2009.
- Holden, Steven "To Godmother, Old Chum",The New York Times, December 5, 2008
- Haun Harry "PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Liza's at the Palace... — Garlands for Minnelli", Playbill.com, December 4, 2008
- Allmusic review
- Rooney, DavidVariety, December 4, 2008
- Lipton, Brian S. Theatermania.com, December 4, 2008
- Playbill.com, February 9, 2009
- Gans, Andrew."Billy, Carnage, Hair, Blithe and Rush Win Drama League Awards", Playbill.com, May 15, 2009
- "The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards Nominees List", Grammy.com, December 2, 2009
- Official concert website
- Liza's at the Palace... at the Internet Broadway Database
- Official Liza Minnelli website