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FLASH FRIDAY: Liza In London, Then & Now

The Royal Albert Hall is one of the most prestigious and vaunted concert halls in the world - surely, it is the UK's answer to Carnegie Hall if there ever were any - so it seems quite befitting of fate that the verifiable Queen of Broadway herself, Liza Minnelli, has traipsed the stage of the great RAH more than merely once or twice - as recently as Wednesday night. Today, we are taking a look at one of Liza's most sizzling concert performances from the past, that - thank Judy - was captured on tape in the form of a Sammy Davis, Jr. tribute from 1992; as well as Liza's most recent performance caught on camera - just what exactly did we do before YouTube? - from two nights ago in her smashing London encore performance that was met with rapturous reviews and filled-to-the-rafters attendance, making Liza the toast of the town - just as she should be. And, speaking of rafters - keep your top hats on tight!

We'll Be Seeing Her

The songs of the Great American Songbook fit Liza Minnelli's performative skills like a skin-tight Halston miniskirt - figuratively, at least. As her most recent studio album, the simply superb CONFESSIONS amply exhibits, Liza Minnelli acts her material in a way that makes it come alive and dance and sing like a fairy breathing life into a woodland flower. Every time Liza takes on one of the greats - such as "At Last" on CONFESSIONS; or "I'll Be Seeing You", below - the song comes fully to life like a rose in bloom - and then some. So, too, does it reach even further heights in her live performances, when you may witness the combination of her stage presence and star power - of which there is no equal - with this fabulous material. All of those elements collectively build a garden of such remarkable variety, beauty, mellifluousness and rich fragrance as to knock the uninitiated among us out - so vast and impressive are her multitude of talents. Yes, when see her onstage it is as if all the forces of nature themselves are coiled within her, ready to be unleashed at any moment, whenever she deigns so. And, at least once in every Liza live performance, then and now - and, more often than not, much more than that - she gives you a glimpse of that otherworldly - or, should I say: all-worldly - gift from the gods. It may come in a siren blast of a "And The World Goes 'Round", or it might come in, well, "A Quiet Thing" or a plaintive, heartfelt "If I Ruled The World" below. The surefire showstopper of every show though is, of course, the classic John Kander/Fred Ebb title song penned for her character in the 1977 Martin Scorsese movie musical NEW YORK, NEW YORK Frank who? Sorry Sammy. Liza has often said that she is most proud of the music and material that has been written for her over the course of her stupendously successful career since the 1960s, chief among them being the music and lyrics of Kander & Ebb. No bigger or better or brassier salute to American icons could BroadwayWorld boast - or anywhere in the entertainment world, Broadway, London or beyond - than to Liza with a Z on July 4th weekend, even if she is an entire ocean away.

So, first, let's jump back nearly twenty years ago to 1992 and watch a sleek and sexy Liza perform a tribute to her dear friend and noted Rat Packer Sammy Davis, Jr., tapping up a storm and singing to The Lofty heights of the Royal Albert Hall with her unmistakable vim, pizzazz and precision. Sing it, sister - and, boy, does she! Enjoy the entire LIZA & FRIENDS: A TRIBUTE TO Sammy Davis, Jr. here! The program is rife with touching stories, hilarious anecdotes and the kind of song and dance performance few besides Liza - Sammy himself being in that heady company - can conjure. It is worth watching for "If I Ruled The World" alone - what a moment!

Now, taken from Liza's most recent concert performance, here is the jaw-dropping footage from her Royal Albert Hall performance on June 29, 2011! She's certainly still got it - and how!

First up, here is the Kander & Ebb anthem "And The World Goes 'Round". What particularly nifty new riffs!

Next, here is "Liza With A Z", the title specialty song written expressly for Liza by Kander & Ebb for the 1972 Bob Fosse television concert film that also won that year's Emmy Award and stands as one of the finest entertainments of its ilk.

Continuing on the Kander & Ebb theme, since Liza and the classic songwriting duo are so inextricably linked in life and lore, here is one of her most celebrated songs, "Maybe This Time", imbued with every bit of the power as she put into it in the spellbinding 1972 Bob Fosse film in which she starred and took home the Best Actress Oscar, CABARET - no matter the chair, mein herr!

Now, the classic title song from CABARET.

Last, and very well perhaps the piece de resistance of all, here is an acapella "I'll Be Seeing You" from Wednesday night that is something truly special - even in a collection of fantastic clips such as this! You'll see why!

As a special bonus, since no Liza column would be complete without this, here it is - and, just like Liza herself, it is better than ever - "New York, New York"!

When she is giving performances like this in her sixties, it is clear to see and her - and stand in sheer awe of - that we'll be seeing Liza lighting up stages on Broadway, in London and around the world for many, many more years to come!

That's all for this week. Please remember that if you have discovered a particularly thrilling, unique, bizarre or hilarious Broadway-related clip to please send us a line at the link below. Until next week…

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From This Author Pat Cerasaro

Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)