NEW YORK — The 17 songs of "Minnelli on Minnelli" serve as Liza Minnelli's personal tribute to the life and career of her late father, Vincente Minnelli, who directed "Meet Me in St. Louis," "Gigi," and many other classic films.
Like so many film performances by her mother, Judy Garland, Minnelli's performance is vibrantly alive with life-affirming songs, humor, and tenderness. Her Broadway show has a limited engagement at New York's historic Palace Theatre until Jan. 2.
Throughout the nearly two-hour one-woman show, "Liza with a Z," as she's sometimes affectionately called, is much more aptly "Liza with a B" - and the "B" is for brilliant.
Minnelli sometimes isn't able to reach the upper registers of her once-wide vocal range. But in performing "Meet Me in St. Louis," popularized by her mother or the title song from "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever," Minnelli has never been better or more comfortable with her material. Late in Act II, Minnelli tells the audience, "When we were trying out this show, I found this trunk that my father had left. And I found stuff [pictures].
"After school, other kids went to the playground. I went to MGM [the movie studio], and I had my birthday parties there." Projected on a big screen is a photo of Liza as a child, together with her movie-director dad and a birthday cake.
"Actually, my father taught me when I was a kid how to see things from a whole new point of view - 'his' view - and I was so lucky!" she quickly adds.
Perhaps it was this "whole new point of view" that has helped Minnelli through a series of professional and personal setbacks in the last three years. Health problems forced her to cancel a number of scheduled concerts, and this year her godmother, Kay Thompson, with whom she was very close, died. Ms. Thompson, a dancer and singer, wrote the "Eloise" children's stories.
*'Minnelli on Minnelli' is directed by Fred Ebb (lyricist of the musicals 'Cabaret' and 'Chicago') and choreographed by John DeLuca. Musical arrangements are by Marvin Hamlisch. It runs at the Palace Theatre in New York through Jan. 2, 2000. For tickets, call Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100.
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