Sunday, August 30, 2020

315. LIZA. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975


Liza Minnelli.

LIZA [Musical Revue] B: Fred Ebb; ORIG. MUSICAL MATL: Fred Ebb and John Kander; D: Bob Fosse; CH: Bob Fosse, Ron Lewis; L: Jules Fisher; P: The Shubert Organization i/a/w Ron Delsener; T: Winter Garden Theatre; 1/6/74-1/26/74 (23)

“She has urchin hair, big gypsy eyes, good legs, lovely expressive hands, and a voice that can purr, whisper, snarl and roar. She is also very sexy,” wrote Clive Barnes appreciatively of the 28-year-old Liza Minnelli when she opened in this revue built around her talents. Barnes noted all her appealing abilities and traits, her “vitality,” “nerviness,” “total reality,” “ability to act in singing,” “delicacy,” and “vulnerability.”

On the extreme other hand, John Simon, often in the opposite corner from Barnes, described her as “a phenomenon as sad as it is garish, a tiny overeager talent given enormous electronic amplification, from under which emerges a shrilly desperate call for fame, for love, for help. She is one part memories of her mother [Judy Garland]; one part unsubtle appeal to the homosexual flock by campy travestying of what little femininity she has; . . . and one part jokes about her ridiculous looks.” (Folks, I’m not making this stuff up.)

Minnelli’s program allowed for her to sing and dance in 20 numbers, including a few original songs by Kander and Ebb. Among the old-time standards were “Mammy” and “Shine on Harvest Moon,” while more recent tunes included “Cabaret,” the title song of the movie that had made her an international star. Narrative bits of personal history were inserted between the numbers. A backup quartet of dancers (Pam Barlow, Spencer Henderson, Jimmy Roddy, and Sharon Wylie) shared several appealing Bob Fosse numbers with the star.

For her efforts, and in despite of John Simon, Liza Minnelli was presented with a Special Award Tony for “superior concert entertainment on the Broadway stage.”