Learning about Liza Minnelli in the Hilton showroom

Photo: Beverly Poppe

I know it’s a little late in the game, but I’m just now getting into Liza Minnelli, the woman who played Lucille Austero on Arrested Development. Turns out she does some singing and dancing on the side, too. And over the weekend, she took her act to the Hilton showroom.

Who showed up? Well, let’s just say I can’t remember the last time I felt so young and so straight. But Liza doesn’t just pull the elderly and the gays, she pulls a third group of fans, too: women whose hair looks just like Liza Minnelli’s.

I was pleasantly surprised to find myself sitting just two rows behind 1970s disco king/celebrity hair stylist/Vegas Man About Town Monti Rock III. But now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. Of course MR3 would be there.

Saturday’s show began at 8 p.m. After a couple dozen vocal impressions from opener Jeff Trachta—the old ones (e.g., Charles Nelson Reilly, George Burns) topped the new ones (e.g., Eminem, Lois Griffin)—Liza’s band took the stage. White suits and green ties. And then Liza in black pants and black sparkly top. Instant standing ovation.

I didn’t recognize the first song, but I recognized what makes Liza such a fun performer: She emotes every single lyric. She’s got a different facial expression for every line, and each one is big and campy and on target.

Here’s the other thing I loved: Liza sings the hell out of every song. And you can see, it takes a bit out of her. I mean, she’s 65. So, between numbers, there’s breathing and coughing and tissues and resting. But during the songs, she’s a beaming force of personality.

She’s had one knee and both hips replaced, but that didn’t stop her from dancing. In a way, it’s made her dancing more meaningful. Same Fosse moves, only now they’re super-concentrated.

We sang along to “Liza with a Z,” we tapped our feet to “Cabaret” and we gave standing ovations throughout. Liza told stories about Fosse, about Sinatra and about how she cast herself in Chicago.

Hopefully I’ll see Liza again soon, in Arrested Development’s fourth season/movie. Seriously, Hurwitz, this thing better f*cking happen.


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