BWW Reviews: Liza with an 'L' for Legend: Minnelli Delights Fort Lauderdale
What's a sure sign a performer is a legend?
She gets a standing ovation before opening her mouth.
So began the concert SIMPLY LIZA, Sunday night, February 16, at Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. The first glimpse of Liza Minnelli on stage caused the audience to leap to their feet and heap on the kind of applause usually reserved for encores.
And although Minnelli opened with the classic, "Teach Me Tonight", it was the audience that got a 90-minute lesson in star power.
Accompanied by the incomparable pianist and musical director Billy Stritch, and backed a six-man band in white dinner jackets, Minnelli performed pop standards with a decidedly torchy bent as well as songs that bear her own unique stamp.
Clad in black pants and silky black top punctuated by a floor length red scarf, Minnelli alternated between sitting in a tall director's chair --- she was having trouble with her ankle, she told the audience --- and standing center stage.
Minnelli followed her opener with a medley of "Here I'll Stay" and "Our Love is Here to Stay", and then showed her whimsical side on the Kander and Ebb tune written for her, "Liza with a Z".
Minnelli has a quality that draws out the audience's protective nature. Whether it was a cough or a rush of emotion that caused her to falter during "Our Love is Here to Stay", no one cared. The fact that she overcame and soldiered on just gave the audience more reason to root for her.
Minnelli's two signature songs from CABARET, "Maybe This Time" and "Cabaret", came at the show's halfway mark. She nailed "Maybe This Time", capturing the emotion and bringing the song from a slow simmer to a full on buoyant boil. For "Cabaret", Minnelli drew cheers when she changed the lyric, proclaiming that she was not going to end up a poor, pill-popping alcoholic like Elsie from Chelsea. The moment underscored that Minnelli is survivor, which is clearly one thing her fans love about her.