One might say that Liza Minnelli was destined from birth to become Ms. Show Business. She’s one of only 12 people ever to have won a Grammy, an Emmy, a Tony and an Academy Award, and the only Oscar-winning offspring of parents – Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli – who were both Oscar-winners. Ira Gershwin and Kay Thompson were her godparents. She appeared in her first movie at age 3 and hasn’t really stopped performing since. In 1965, at age 19, she became the youngest person ever to win a Best Actress Tony, for Flora the Red Menace. “New York, New York” was her song before it was ever Frank Sinatra’s. And her slightly kinky characterization of Sally Bowles in the 1972 film Cabaret is absolutely iconic.
It seems like everyone has a favorite Liza Minnelli role. Those who were around for her Bob Fosse-directed 1972 TV special Liza with a Z were dazzled; a decade, later movie audiences fell in love with her as the working-class girlfriend of Dudley Moore’s drunken millionaire in the Arthur movies. On Broadway, she replaced Gwen Verdon in Chicago in 1975 and Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria in 1997. Over the decades she has sung with everyone from Gene Kelly and Charles Aznavour to Donna Summer and Michael Jackson to the Pet Shop Boys and My Chemical Romance. She has fought her way back from years of alcoholism and from a bout of encephalitis in 2000 that was supposed to have crippled her permanently, and nowadays devotes a lot of philanthropic energies to AIDS research and LGBTQ rights.
But singing live onstage seems to be what Liza seems to love to do best, and she’ll be bringing all that star quality to the Bardavon 1869 Opera House on Friday, May 17 at 8 p.m. for the theatre’s 144th birthday fundraising Gala. Following the performance, top-tier Gala guests will stroll from the theatre on Market to Main Street for cocktails, great food and a night of dancing at the Bull & Buddha. Black tie is optional.
Every year, Gala proceeds help underwrite many Bardavon programs that cannot support themselves on ticket sales alone – programs like school residencies that bring artists and musicians to local students, ambitious symphonic events and special events for senior citizens. Primary sponsors of this year’s Gala include the James J. McCann Charitable Trust, the Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, Markertek, Marianne Murray and Richard Rowley; but your ticket purchase is an integral part of the fundraising picture as well.
As of presstime, tickets to hear Liza Minnelli live at the Bardavon were still available at the following prices: $225, which includes premier performance seating and the post-show party plus a tax-deductible contribution; $175, which includes preferred performance seating plus a tax-deductible contribution; and $125 for the performance only. You can obtain them at the Bardavon box office at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2072; the Ulster Performing Arts Center box office at 602 Broadway in Kingston, (845) 339-6088; or through TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com.
2013 Bardavon Gala with Liza Minnelli, Friday, May 17, 8 p.m., $225/$175/$125, Bardavon 1869 Opera House, 35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2072, www.bardavon.org.