Thursday, January 15, 2009

Liza Minnelli Made Me Cry

Liza walked upstage to the piano and gripped it like a prizefighter going to the ropes. Tired and worn, she gathered her spirit - not her strength, wiped her face with a towel and came back downstage.

I had last seen Liza Minnelli during her last comeback, produced by her then husband David Gest. That had been stressful viewing. Back then, she would approach one of those big notes by screwing her legs into the stage, punching the air with her fist, while the voice would wobble out. "Please make it, Liza. You can do it," I would whisper each time.

Liza at the Palace was different, I had heard.

My friend Mitch emailed me: You have to see this. He'd never done that before. The show appeared on both 2008 top ten lists in the NY Times Arts & Leisure year-in-review. Then on Monday, Dec 22nd my best friend Bob called up to tell me that four seats, fifth row center had just magically appeared on Ticketmaster for xmas eve! We bought them, just knowing our husbands wouldn't want to miss this.

...and she was FANTASTIC! Her voice was no longer the clarion it had been. She sacrificed that too much pills and liquor. Still, she sang strong and steady. She danced. She mocked her age, making a shtick of it like a pro.

After twenty plus songs, she stood center stage, fingered the microphone with one hand and shook out her wet hair with the other. She quietly said, "A few years ago a terrible thing happened. Some people tried to hurt us, hurt our city. But, but they did not succeed. We came together as a city, as a county. Stronger. Yes. Stronger."

Tears had already starting rolling down my cheeks.

As she launched into "New York, New York," I cried. Steady streams released from my eyes.

I had been vulnerable, for sure. The holidays are hard - melancholy, demanding, tiring. My guard had been weak, but - to be true - I love New York City and I love a showtune. Liza created a pitch perfect storm.

God bless her.

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