by Anthony Chase
I caught the first night of Liza Minnelli’s new tour “Simply Liza,” down at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale. For most performers, the evening could have been a disaster. With a twisted ankle, she spent most of the evening sitting in a tall director’s chair. Not in perfect voice by any means, when she needed to restart “New York New York,” in order to clear her throat for the big finish, she quipped, “I guess I’m still passing through Connecticut!” She depended heavily upon her musical director Billy Stritch to guide her through the show – at one point asking, “Where are we Billy?” to which he humorously responded, “I have no idea!”
The good news is, Liza Minnelli is not most performers. With a show punctuated by standing ovations – the first just for appearing on stage when the curtain went up – even with a bum ankle, Liza is still Liza. She opened the show with “Teach Me Tonight,” and then proceeded to give us all a lesson in star power. She wooed the audience with her complete self-awareness and self-deprecating humor. Songs that were written specifically for her voice – “Ring Them Bells,” “Maybe This Time,” “New York New York,” “Liza with a ‘Z’” soared.
By evening’s end, we all felt that we had been privileged to share something special, even historic, with an entertainment legend. “Simply Liza” is simply terrific.
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