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'Liza's at the Palace...!' on Broadway: What did the critics think?

December 5, 2008 | 10:30 am

Lizas_at_the_palace Liza Minnelli, the Oscar-, Emmy- and Tony Award-winning singer-dancer-actress and sometimes tabloid news staple, returned to Broadway this week after an absence of nearly 10 years. Critics were quite forgiving of any apparent shortcomings in "Liza's at the Palace…!," which runs through Dec. 28 at the Palace Theatre in New York. In fact, many seemed to shower the love on the legendary 62-year-old entertainer.

Here's what they had to say:

Stephen Holden of the New York Times: "I would love to report that Ms. Minnelli’s voice and physical agility have been magically restored to their former glory, but those days seem to be gone. ... But there were still occasional moments of beautifully focused dramatic singing."

"'Liza's at the Palace' ... is 100% fantastic entertainment," Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News gushes. The show "finds Liza with a Z fit, funny, surprisingly energetic and in her best voice in ages -- though on occasion she does mistake volume for tone."

Speaking of gushing, Frank Scheck of the New York Post raves: "Sorry to disappoint all you vultures out there, but she's done it again: 'Liza's at the Palace ... !' is the sort of late-career triumph of which show-business mythology is made." Whew. Incidentally, he gives the show four out of four stars.

Lizas_at_the_palace2 Back down on Earth, Time Out's Adam Feldman, an apparent vulture, says, "Most of the show is not like watching a car crash, as some have feared; it is more like watching traffic." But of the last sequence, he says, "For ten minutes, she is lit from the inside, and her wattage is overwhelming. ... It’s almost enough to make you forget the preceding two hours."

Howard Shapiro of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes: "She's breathless between songs, and it's no wonder; in any case, her sheer ebullience has a breathlessness to it. Yet the minute she begins to sing, she's uncannily in complete control again." 

"Minnelli is delivering a sterling piece of entertainment that looks backward and forward," says Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press, adding, "It would be foolish if you don't catch her act before it closes Dec. 28."

At Variety, David Rooney offers what may be a universal truth: "Sure, the voice is frayed and husky, the control wavers, many of the lyrics are slurred and the big belt at times hides behind the orchestra’s ample brass section to disguise the effort. But nobody who would buy a ticket to this show in the first place is going to care a whit."

--Lisa Fung

Photo credit: Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images