Production sources have informed Playbill On-Line that Liza Minnelli's Broadway comeback show, Minnelli on Minnelli, has broken 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 whopping $436,845 on Oct. 25, the first day tickets went on sale.
Minnelli on Minnelli begins previews Dec. 1 and opens officially Dec. 8. The show is scheduled for 24 performances only and runs through Jan. 2, 2000.
The strong sales reports are encouraging for Minnelli, who recently held a press conference to announce the show. Minnelli sounded strong and genuinely enthused about the Palace project, and she appeared comfortable and eager to answer a variety of questions about her professional and personal life.
As reported earlier, Minnelli on Minnelli will be an evening of "heartfelt tribute" to her late father, filmmaker Vincente Minnelli, a master of the movie musical. Minnelli told reporters then 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. The Palace engagement has a special meaning to fans of both Minnelli and her mother, Judy Garland, because Garland reopened the Palace and broke all attendance records there in 1953, later returning to stage her own historic comeback in 1967. 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."
She said she maintains a full training and coaching schedule that begins at 7 AM each day. She has lost 40 lbs., she said.
Radio City Entertainment, LM Concerts, Scott Nederlander and Stewart F. Lane are the show's producers.
"You wouldn't believe how many people have walked through the Palace Theater and said to me, 'Oh, the ghost of Judy Garland is here!'" Lane told Playbill On-Line.
Lane said he has seen the whole show. "She gave me the whole show up in her apartment," Lane said. "I tell you, she can sell the song like nobody's business." Lane said that the multi-media show will include 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.")
At one point of her 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. 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.'"
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 directed by Fred Ebb, 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.
"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, 1999 - Jan. 2, 2000, Tue. - Sat. at 8 PM with Sun. matinees at 3 PM on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. A special holiday performance has been added on Dec. 27 and there will be no show on Dec. 31. Tickets are $125-$35 and are available through Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100.