Liza With A "Z"
Collector's Edition, Collector's ed.
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In 1972, Liza Minelli and Broadway legend Bob Fosse took the Oscars by storm with Cabaret. That same year, the two paired up once again to create the spectacular musical special Liza With A Z, making television history and carting home four Emmys in the process. Now, Liza and the producers of the Academy Award-winning Chicago bring the glamour and glitter home again on DVD, fully-restored and digitally remastered.
The DVD Holy Grail for Liza Minnelli fans finally surfaces after 30-some years: Liza with a "Z", a splashy TV special from 1972. And wow, is it ever a product of its era. Minnelli and director-choreographer Bob Fosse were at the top of their popularity in 1972, having just made Cabaret, the blockbuster musical for which both won Oscars. Liza with a "Z" places the still-coltish Minnelli on the stage of the Lyceum Theater, in a one-night-only performance covered by Fosse's eight cameras. Songs by Cabaret composers John Kander and Fred Ebb provide a spine for the show, including a breathless rendition of "Ring Them Bells" and the tongue-twisting "Say Liza (Liza with a 'Z')," a goofball number that sounds more like one of Danny Kaye's patter songs than a tune for Liza Minnelli.
Liza treats each song as an emotional Mount Everest, never holding back a thing, and the result is a psychodrama played out in the klieg lights. (The outrageous costumes by Halston don't hold back a thing, either; Studio 54, here we come!) Memories of the all-or-nothing style of her mother, Judy Garland, are already heavy in the air by the time Minnelli reaches "My Mammy," and workouts on "God Bless the Child" and "Son of a Preacher Man" confirm the singer's approach.
As for Fosse's choreography, there are signature moves aplenty--his dancing so frequently suggested a choreographer lusting for actual sex to break out on stage. "Bye Bye Blackbird" gives Minnelli and her backup dancers a chance to stretch out in an echt-Fosse feast of bowler hats and white gloves. The bell-and-booty shaking in "Ring Them Bells" and the loony tuxedo-clad cowpokes in "I Gotcha" hint that Fosse was in the midst of a manic phase. Speaking of which, Minnelli tackling Joe Tex's "I Gotcha" is one of those jaw-dropping mismatches that she salvages only through dint of daft commitment. No quarreling with the Cabaret medley; say want you want about Liza, she owns those songs. Minnelli and Fosse won Emmys for the show. The restoration of the original materials looks about as good as can be expected, with the spirit of a glitzy seventies TV variety special quite intact. --Robert Horton
- Includes Grammy-winning original Liza with a "Z" soundtrack on separate CD
- Remarkably candid, fulll-length program commentary by Liza herself
- Fan Q&A with Liza at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival
- Liza's performance at the 2005 GLAAD Awards
- Liza interviews legendary "Cabaret," New York, New York" and "Chicago" composer John Kander
- The complete "Biography: Liza Minnelli" from A&E Network
- Biographies of Liza Minnelli and Bob Fosse
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Top customer reviews
Fosse was obviously a genius of a choreographer - to have him and the production team and the dance ensemble and Liza all coming together on this project has created something truly mind blowing.
An hour packed with high octane entertainment . . . this unique and personal show is something we'll never see again . . it felt like history was being made at the time . . and I still love watching it decades later
These are songs begging to be sung, danced and interpreted visually as well as vocally and Liza is more than up to the task.
In all honesty, I don't know if she'll ever be quite as vocally wonderful as she was in this special and she's certainly been through her ups and downs since then... but I'm rooting for her. She's surprised people before and maybe she'll do it again. This DVD comes out in conjunction with a cable special so she ought to get some extra attention because of the combination. She deserves it. Hopefully, she can make the most of the moment.
For those wanting to know what she sings, the selections include, My Mammy, Bye Bye Blackbird, a medley of songs from Cabaret and many others.
Special features wich I particularly liked include:
A full-length program commentary by Liza herself
Fan Q&A with Liza at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival
Liza interviewing legendary "Cabaret," New York, New York" and "Chicago" composer John Kander
Bob Fosse was also at his best for staging this show. The music by Kander and Ebb is sublime. There's so much electricity here the whole concert is hot to the touch! I love the moments when you see Liza dancing with all the others while wearing the white gloves during "Bye Bye Blackbird;" the show-stopping "Ring Them Bells" which has a strong vaudevillian flavor here; and the next to the last song, "My Mammy" is not just touching and nostalgic; it is perhaps the most definitive performance since Jolson himself sang it. Personally, I have always been a fan of vaudeville; and there's a strong current of that running through the entire show. Yes, the show was so state of the art at the time, with Liza's risqu? costumes and all--but the nostalgia and the vaudeville flavors make it a universally appealing performance. The trademark Cabaret medley at the end of Liza's concert is equally thrilling. Encore!
The extras are plentiful and make this a very good product. You get, as you may already know from reading above, Liza's performance at the 2005 GLAAD Awards and footage of Liza at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival. The complete A&E biography of Liza is here, too! AWESOME!!!!!
Of course, fans who rushed to buy this may have noticed that, at least for most of the first issued CDs, the first note is missing from the CD. Do not fear! In fact, take a lemon and turn it into lemonade. Why not keep the CD instead of returning it? After all, you'll eventually have a collectible in the CD itself since obviously the CD will be re-manufactured to include the first note. (That was a surprise to me; why this mistake? Four and three-quarter stars for that error.)
All in all, this instant classic DVD/CD combination would have to appeal to any fan of top notch theater, not just Liza's core fan base. With Liza, Fosse, Kander and Ebb, all the stars were in the right place at the right time to produce an unforgettable legendary concert. Even if you've never seen Liza Minnelli perform you owe it to yourself to get this for sublime entertainment. God bless you, Liza; what a gift we have in you!
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