Liza at the Hollywood Bowl

Whatever is said of the glorious heyday of Liza Minnelli’s career (around the 1960s and 1970’s) when she had already established herself as a successful nightclub singer, her triumphant concert event at the Hollywood Bowl is a testament to her staying power over a career of ups and downs.

Her voice, definitely, is not the highlight of this concert, but it shouldn’t be taken as a drawback. Remember, she just recently received a Tony Award in July for her performance of Liza’s at the Palace… last winter. If that is any indication, it is this: Liza knows how to take her weaknesses and tweak it into a tour de force performance.

Dressed in all white, Liza stepped on to the stage with the confidence of a true diva with a mission-to win her audience over. And win them over she did. “We’re all in this together,” she told everyone sitting in the outdoor venue, sweating up a storm in the hot late August night. As if on cue, the crowd responds with calls of adoration (“We Love You, Liza” seemed to be the catch-all phrase on Saturday night.)

With that, she leads into her song set, comprised of her standard hits, sung with bravado and life-worn experience. For the most part, Liza was out of breath during the up-tempo numbers. At one point, she apologizes to the audience and asks if it would be ok to bring out a chair.

Of course, the audience goes wild and she continues on. Ever the classy and funny lady of the stage, at another point in her set, she breaks from her song to inform the audience that, had this been a few years earlier, at this point in the song, she would have found herself down on her knees…But at 63 years old, this legend wows the crowd by merely pointing out that she’s not doing it anymore.

As mentioned earlier, it’s not about her voice anymore, but the mere legendary status that is known as Liza. Her voice, by now throaty indiscernible by the end of Act I, perhaps due to her rough treatment due to drug abuse problems, is candidly, if not slyly incorporated into her classic number, “Cabaret.” In that song, she knowingly addresses the irony of the lyrics regarding “too much pills and liquor” with bit of dry humor that sends the crowd roaring with laughter.

Act II highlights include her signature “New York, New York,” which is hands down the show stopper of the evening. With all the glitz and glamour of lights and sounds, Liza knows how to make an exit-she knows how to bring her adoring audience to its feet. In the course of one evening, she’s taken the house on a musical journey through a career-spanning trajectory of standards that are personal to her own life while paying tribute to all those that helped her stand where she is today-from Kander and Ebb (“Maybe This time” and “My Own Best Friend”) Kahal and Fain (“I’ll Be Seeing You”), and touching “What Makes A Man A Man” by Charles Aznavour.

Liza has definitely had her ups and down, at the expense of hungry tabloids documenting her drug abuse and string of failed marriages. Fortunately for her, and for the rest of the world, she’s riding on the heels of a fresh Tony Award as she preps up for a limited engagement at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. If this sold out performance at the Bowl is any indication, she’ll sell out the Strip, indeed.

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About Obed Medina
Obed received his BA in Creative Writing from the University of California at Riverside. He has freelanced and volunteered at various theatre companies in Los Angeles since 2002. He launched his own workshop theatre company in 2008 and has produced six original one-act plays and one Off-Broadway hit. Currently, he is living in Ashland, Oregon working on his writing and founder of Collaborative Theatre Project.

One Response to Liza at the Hollywood Bowl

  1. This looks great. I really like the format and the fact that there’s an image for each post.

    I wish I’d seen this show, but I didn’t even know she was in town. Would it kill her to give me a call once in while to let me know about these things?! The worst part is that she did my favorite song – If You Hadn’t, But You Did. I’m expecting to see a review for House of Besarab any day now! That show sounds so interesting.

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