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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Palace


  Liza Minnelli/PH:Michael Falco

Perceptively noted by lyricist Sammy Cahn, Liza Minnelli opened at the legendary Palace Theater with "Teach Me Tonight" with the phrase "starting with the A-B-C of it, right down to the X-Y-Z of it," and it would seem to sum up the electrifying concert performance. Looking fine and fit and strutting the stage with that incandescent punch and verve that has become her trademark, Liza is back on Broadway dotting her repertoire with a couple of songs she belted at her acclaimed Winter Garden run a quarter of a century ago, plus that dazzling "Palace Medley," once so brilliantly performed by her mother Judy Garland on her Ford Star Jubilee television appearance and her Capitol debut album, Miss Show Business.

The show piece by Roger Edens has been fitted out with a new introduction by David Zippel, John Kander and Billy Stritch. The medley musically chronicles the legacies of vaudeville stars Nora Bayes, Sophie Tucker and Fanny Brice with evergreens as "Shine on Harvest Moon," "Some of These Days" and "My Man" respectively, and certainly Garland herself who appeared in several notable Palace engagements beginning in 1951.. The glory this time around is that vaudeville's back at the Palace and Liza's on the bill.

Liza reprises the Kander and Fred Ebb tune, " Maybe This Time,"a song she had been singing before it was interpolated into the film score for Cabaret and for sure, she belted the title tune from her Oscar winning performance as Sally Bowles with all the gusto and glory that brought her acclaim.

The second half of the program is an affectionate tribute to Minnelli's godmother, Kay Thompson, the legendary MGM vocal coach and the author of Eloise, the precocious tot who governed the hallowed halls of Gotham's Plaza Hotel. Thompson was also a classy night club doyenne who appeared at the top rooms with the Williams Brothers ( one of whom was a young Andy.) Liza supported by a quartet of handsome young men, recreates highlights from Thompson's act with a rousing "Clap Yo' Hands" a tune by the Gershwin's that Thompson sang in the 1956 Paramount tuner Funny Face that starred Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn.

Thompson's "I Love a Violin" appeared to take the wind out of the 62-year old entertainer who took a break as the gents offered another Gershwin classic, "Liza." The Thompson arrangement of the tune was subsequently cut from the 1946 MGM musical collage Ziegfeld Follies, but it served director Vincente Minnelli and wife Garland as their daughter's monker.

Following a well earned break, Minnelli returned in a fire engine red dress to belt "My Mammy" a traditional vaudeville anthem that became Al Jolson's signature tune. The song from the 1929 show Sinbad is featured in the newly released Collector's Choice CD of Liza's complete A&M Recordings. Liza preserves the legacy of show biz pizazz, but confesses to not being able to drop down on one knee anymore in the famous Jolson style.

The familiar three-note intro John Kander devised for "Theme from New York, New York" signaled Liza's bow to the big apple, and for a holiday postscript, accompanied at the piano by long time accompanist and pal Stritch, she encored with a holiday wish that her mother introduced in Meet Me in St. Louis, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

The concert prompted several standing ovations. Mama and godmother would have been proud. Suffice to say, a star is re-born. The show has been directed and choreographed by Rob Lewis with Vegas flourish and dash and the lighting


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