Liza Minnelli's Broadway comeback show, Minnelli on Minnelli, a celebration of tunes linked to her film-director father, starts previews Dec. 1 at the Palace Theatre.
The song-and-dance revue, with Minnelli backed up a huddle of men, officially opens Dec. 8 and is scheduled for 24 performances only, to Jan. 2, 2000.
A special invitation-only rehearsal took place Nov. 29. A source who attended the dress rehearsal told Playbill On-Line that Minnelli incorporates humorous references to her recovery effort in the show.
Minnelli on Minnelli broke the Palace Theatre's box office record for first-day phone receipts. The old record, previously held by Beauty and the Beast, was $100,488 and was set on Sept. 26, 1993. Minnelli on Minnelli took in a record $436,845 on Oct. 25, the first day tickets went on sale.
Minnelli on Minnelli, written and directed by Fred Ebb (book writer and lyricist of Chicago), is billed as an evening of "heartfelt tribute" to her late father, Vincente Minnelli, a master of such movie musicals as "Meet Me in St. Louis," "The Bandwagon, "An American in Paris," "Brigadoon," "Kismet," "Gigi," "Bells Are Ringing" and "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever." Minnelli told reporters at a press conference that she was inspired to do the show after singing around the piano at home and realizing how much great material there was in her father's movies.
The show marks the singer's return to Broadway after Victor/Victoria (1997). The Palace engagement has a special meaning to fans of both Minnelli and her mother, Judy Garland, because Garland reopened the historic vaudeville showplace on Oct. 16, 1953, breaking all attendance records there. She later returned in 1956 and later in 1967, when the '67 - '68 theatre season opened with her historic comeback.
Radio City Entertainment, LM Concerts, Scott Nederlander and Stewart F. Lane are the show's producers. Producer Lane said that the multi-media show includes singing, dancing and clips from Vincente Minnelli's films, including "Meet Me in St. Louis." It was during the filming of that picture that Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland first met and fell in love, Liza Minnelli is quoted as saying in the book, "Directed by Vincente Minnelli."
Minnelli on Minnelli will include "That's Entertainment" and "Shine on Your Shoes," from the film "The Bandwagon," "I've Got Rhythm," from "American in Paris," "On a Clear Day" from "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever," "Meet Me in St. Louis" and "The Trolley Song" from "Meet Me in St. Louis," and many others.
The show is choreographed by John DeLuca, with musical arrangements by Marvin Hamlisch, vocal arrangements by Billy Stritch, dance arrangements by David Krane and Peter Howard, scenic design by John Arnone, costumes by Bob Mackie and lighting by Howell Binkley.
Also featured in the show will be a male ensemble comprising Jeff Broadhurst, Stephen Campanella, Billy Hartung, Sebastian LaCause, Jim Newman and Alec Timerman.
When asked about her comeback and the obstacles she has recently faced, Minnelli said she could not deny having struggled with certain problems, including alcohol abuse, but insisted that she was ready and able to work. "You come through this," Minnelli said, "and you go on -- and you keep on going." Minnelli said she had undergone throat and hip surgery, and stressed that when she didn't work it was "never because I wouldn't, only because I couldn't -- and now I can."
Minnelli has said she maintains a full training and coaching schedule that begins at 7 AM each day. At her press conference announcing the show she said she has lost 40 pounds.
At one point of her initial press conference, Minnelli was asked about singing her mother's songs, especially after having avoided it for so many years.
"Well, that's true, and I hate to hear other people do them," she said. "But my father taught me something. He said, 'If you're going to do something that's been done before, come at it from a different point of view.'"
"There are so many emotional peaks in the show," Lane said, "at least six points where you're going to have a lump in your throat. She pays homage to her father and her mother and, as much as I love her singing cabaret, you have to realize she's singing a whole new set of songs."
Lane said that Minnelli does a rendition of "I've Got Rhythm," that turns it into a "very hot, sexy number."
"She looks strong," Lane added, "a lot of people are pulling for her."
Minnelli on Minnelli runs Dec. 1 - Jan. 2, 2000. A special holiday performance has been added on Dec. 27 and there will be no show on Dec. 31. Tickets are $35-$125 and are available through Ticketmaster at (212) 307 4100.