Liza Minnelli made her Broadway debut as the title character in John Kander and Fred Ebb‘s Flora, the Red Menace and has been wowing us ever since. The daughter of famed actress Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli, Liza is best known for her portrayal of Sally Bowles in Cabaret. For years she has bowled us over with her voice and her presence. In honor of her 70th birthday, we asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter to send in their burning questions, and she‘s got answers.
What artistry and work ethic from your mother and father do you carry with you throughout your lifelong career?
LM: I’ve said that I got my drive from my mother and my dreams from my father. There’s a part of them that I bring onstage with me each time I perform.
You’re an unstoppable performer. Where does that drive come from?
LM: From wanting to get it right! A performer rehearses and rehearses and then rehearses some more. You want to get to the point where your performance is so well-honed that its instinctual.
You’re deeply connected to your audiences, something you share in common with your mother. It's easy for fans to understand why they want to see you, but what makes you want to get on stage and perform for us!?
LM: Oh I love it. I always have or I wouldn’t have been working as long as I have. And I feel the love coming from the audience onto the stage. It's wonderful.
Who are some your favorite Broadway performers of today? Do you still enjoy going to the theatre?
LM: If you live in New York you go to the theatre. Or at least you should. It's one of the things that the city has above all others except for maybe London which also has a vibrant theatre scene. A few years back I caught Venus in Fur, a wonderful play which starred Nina Arianda who I hadn’t seen before. She was breathtaking.
Do you have any plans to continue performing concerts? Or are you interested in doing a new one-woman show about your life?
LM: Oh I love to perform but I’m afraid that if I were to do a show about my life, having just turned 70, it would be very very long!
What was your reaction to hearing “New York, New York” for the first time?
LM: I loved it. How can’t you? It's one of those songs you don’t need to hear more than one time to know it's an anthem, you know what I mean? A really big powerful song. I sang it as something to strive for – for somebody who maybe didn’t live in New York or perhaps just arrived in the city and was going to invest themselves in the city. Sinatra sang it as somebody who had already conquered the city. I love that we were each able to approach it differently and come up with something that still means so much to so many people. I’m so proud that Freddie and John wrote it for me.
What was it like to win a Tony Award at 19 and being among the youngest Tony Award winners?
LM: Scary! I didn’t have anything to wear and had to borrow a dress just for the evening. I’m not sure I’m still the youngest to have won and I don’t think about it like that. Mostly it's an accomplishment for everybody who was involved in the show.
You’ve often said you’re not a singer, but a storyteller in song. What draws you to a song?
LM: A character. If a song has a distinct story to tell from the eyes of a character I can find in my head it catches my attention. I ask myself, who is she? What is she thinking? What is happening to her? Is there something I can bring to her through this music? I love asking those questions and figuring it out through the music.
Which song of yours or anyone else’s brings you the most inner joy?
LM: Songs of mine that I love change all the time. Sometimes it's “Maybe This Time” or perhaps “World Goes Round”—I love the meaning behind that one …that you have to keep pushing through and keep pushing through.
What would you tell your 22-year-old self when you were taking off in the business?
LM: Breathe. And stretch!
Do you have any advice for young aspiring performers?
LM: Don’t do this if you want to. Do this because you have to, and there’s a very big difference. The ones that have to do will find a way to create throughout their lifetime, and it’s a gift.