The New York Post reported Jan. 26 that co-star Tony Roberts was calling in "sick" to protest Minnelli's frequent onstage mistakes. It's sources were unnamed, but Minnelli and other production personnel have gone on record denying the story.
What is your take on the situation? Do you think it's true? If so, what should be done? If not, how can the show overcome the damage? We're particularly interested in hearing from people who have seen the show.
To read reviews of Liza's performance from members of Playbill On-Line, see Playbill Critics Circle: Your Reviews of Minnelli in V/V" in Theatre News.
E-mail your opinion on the controversy to Playbill On-Line managing editor Robert Viagas Please include your town and state, and please note whether you'd like us to include your full e-mail address so you can receive responses. This is optional, of course. Results will be posted as they come in.
Here are the responses so far. Playbill On-Line thanks all who took the time to write:
From Caren Koslov (email@example.com) Brooklyn, NY:
I saw Victor/Victoria on January 15 and will be seeing it again on Sunday, for Liza's closing performance. Liza was absolutely wonderful in the part and so were her co-stars, Tony Roberts and Rachel York.
I was quite surprised to hear of the so-called "Tony Roberts sick-out." If indeed it's true that this is a sick-out, I find it to be totally unprofessional. A sick-out would be unfair to Liza and the other co-stars, the producers, director, Julie Andrews and, last but not least, the paying customer, the audience. If this is a sick-out, is the theater ethic dead? Whatever happened to "The show must go on!"? I, as a paying customer would boycott an actor that called a sick-out and would expect that producers would boycott as well!!
If Tony Roberts is indeed suffering with the flu, which I believe he is, this publicity is quite vicious. Liza Minnelli is, in my opinion, one of the best entertainers of our time and it's unfair that she is receiving such vicious and ugly press lately. Could someone actually be deriving pleasure out of smearing her work ethic? And why are people waiting to see her fail? I know it's inevitable that Minnelli will always be compared to Garland but why are people waiting for Liza to follow her mother's footsteps to the end? Is this what makes good press? I think not!!!!! And, I think, Liza will disappoint all those who are waiting for her to fail!! Liza Minnelli is, again, one of the best entertainers of our time and she truly has a gift that makes her special - onstage, she makes her audiences HAPPY! Who can ask for anything more! (1/28/97)
I'm not sure, or really care, why Liza is messing up her lines. The producer seems to say that "it is like going through previews". And even they didn't want her reviewed until she was "comfortable" in the part. That is all well and good but why should the audience settle for a "preview" or better yet sloppy performance and be expected to pay BROADWAY TICKET PRICES. At 70-75 dollars per get your damn lines right!!! (1/28/97)
From Gary Gallant McAfee, New Jersey:
My girlfriend and I saw Victor/Victoria this Sat (1/25). At that time, I had no idea about the controversy. I do not claim to be a theater buff, but I do enjoy a good show and thought that Liza did a good job. Let's face it, she was brought in to sell the tickets in Ms. Andrews absence and she did an excellent job at that. The house was full. I even saw the Mayor there. I doubt that that would have happened if her understudy did the show for the last month.
No matter what we do to earn a paycheck we are all professionals in our field. Sometimes this means working with someone who do not like or someone that we do not "click with." If Tony is doing this in protest then he should accept that while he has the lead male role, he is not the star. People are not going to the show to see him. If it was not for the lead actress, he would not have a job. (1/28/97)
If the press accounts of Tony Roberts' attitude are accurate, he doesn't belong in the art form. Acting as defined to me is the pursuit of truth in one's creation/performance of a character, not the pursuit of perfect dialogue. Julie's interpretation of Victoria may suit him, but *no* actress in this role would be a carbon copy of that. If he was truly the mastered professional he'd like everyone to believe, he'd embrace the challenges created for him by an interpretation drastically different from the one he's become comfortable with over the past two years, not "take his ball and go home". He's lazy or has found himself confronted with shortcomings in his own technique. Either way, the deficiencies are his, not Liza's. (1/27/97)
You have here two veterans of the stage . . . both of whom are undoubtedly being well paid for their performances. I don't think Liza, workaholic that she's been reported to be, would deliberately give anything less than her best, especially since she knows the length of her commitment to the show. If extra rehersal time was deemed mandatory, either by the stars or the director, I'm sure being the professionals both Minnelli and Roberts are, they would iron out any serious problems.
As an actor, I KNOW that there are a multitude of scenarios that can affect one's performance...I've been in shows for months and suddenly "blacked" out on a line or a cue...we're human. It happens. THAT'S the excitement of live theater....if it is indeed true that Anthony Roberts threw a "hissy fit" because of his co-star's mistakes/errors/whatever, I would suggest that he back to the anonimity of having onced starred in Woody Allen films, give up performing in theater and leave his career at that! (1/27/97)
From Larry Caras:
All of the melodrama sounds like a ploy to keep people interested in the show. If she were going to be in the show for a longer period of time I could see her performance "misses" being a bigger issue, but, realistically, she is selling tickets while Ms. Andrews is off. Leave it at that! (1/27/97)
NONSENSE! This isn not Shakespeare or the Bible. Saw the show with Andrews and it was awful. Liza injected some fun into it. She was hired to do a star turn and keep this shaky vehicle alive. She does that and more. Roberts is a pro and should be able to deal with any changes Liza makes especially since so much of the show has been changed so often.
From Ina Burwasser (firstname.lastname@example.org) Elkins Park, PA:
I saw Liza in "Vic/Vic" Tues 1/21.I adore Liza and have seen her in many concerts, in the play "The Rink" and in the movie "Cabaret". I was really looking forward to seeing her in this show. I am familiar with Vic/Vic, having seen Julie in it.
That said, I was amazingly disappointed with Liza in this show. She went up on her lines, had no concept of timing, threw off Tony Roberts' timing (especially in her first scene with him) and generally gave what I consider to be a sloppy, unprofessional performance. When Liza was to reveal her "womanhood" to Rachel York's character, she fumbled with her blouse a long time. She took so long to open her blouse that the character outside her window had to climb up and down his ladder twice to spy on her!
Ms Minelli's singing and dancing were absolutely wonderful. I was appalled, however, at her inability to learn her lines and the pace and timing of her acting. She seemed lost in this show.
Liza should be held accountable for knowing her lines just like any other actor. If she cannot or will not, then her understudy should go on for the good of the show. (1/27/97)