Masterworks Broadway releases Liza Minnelli's historic concert album Legends Of Broadway: Liza Minnelli Live At The Winter Garden. The long-awaited Live At The Winter Garden recording is derived from the original master engineered by Phil Ramone. The concert recording includes performances from Minnelli's truly legendary Broadway show in January 1974 as well as three recently discovered live bonus tracks that were recorded but not included on the original LP, including Stevie Wonder's "You and I" and standards "It Had to Be You" and "My Shining Hour."
The story behind the recording is an interesting one. The 27-year-old dynamo had sold out an entire month's run of 24 concerts in 36 hours, setting a house record for the Winter Garden Theater. The show itself, which opened on January 6, was simply titled Liza. The album Liza Minnelli Live At The Winter Garden was quickly released by Columbia Records in April, but had to be withdrawn from the market due to contractual conflicts over her performance of songs from the Cabaret film score, which were available on the then-current soundtrack album. Only pirated versions of the album have circulated since. This is the first time that the entire show will come out on CD and digital release.
Like Cabaret, Liza was directed by Bob Fosse, who choreographed it with Ron Lewis. Marvin Hamlisch served as musical director, and the celebrated songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb supplied Minnelli with new songs for the shows.
"The thing about doing a show like Liza is that every song means something," Minnelli reflects. "Fred and John were so brilliant at building a show, plus I had Marvin, so we tried all kinds of different rundowns and finally came up with what you hear on the album, and thank God it worked! But you keep trying, and don't get satisfied with anything but the best."
She pauses, then concludes: "It brings back so many memories. I always feel like I've never done anything. It's true! So to havethis come out, and to be reminded of how it was and how it was received, it's just lovely!"
The Liza shows marked a triumphant return to Broadway for Minnelli. She was already a veteran of the Great White Way and had won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 1965 for Flora the Red Menace. These shows also followed a remarkable rush of career milestones including her Oscar in 1973 for her performance in Cabaret and her Emmy that year for her Liza With a Z TV special.
Opening night guests for Liza included her father Vincente Minnelli and sister Lorna Luft, Halston, Diane Von Furstenberg, Neil Simon, New York's Mayor Abe Beame, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Dudley Moore, Kay Thompson, Ben Vereen and Kitty Carlisle Hart. The after-party was held at The Rainbow Grill in Rockefeller Center, and Minnelli was later rewarded with a Special Tony Award for "adding luster to the Broadway season."
"It was thrilling," Minnelli recalls. "I remember opening night with Bobby [Fosse] and Marvin [Hamlisch] and all the people I looked up to and went to because they were the best. And it was so exciting to go to that theater every night and walk through that stage door and up the stairs and see how excited everybody else was, because it really was a new thing to do a Broadway concert show."
Minnelli would do similar concert show runs in New York at Radio City Music Hall and twice at Carnegie Hall.