A Slice O' Minnelli
I must admit it wasn't until last night that I gave the notion of gay icons much thought. Having missed out on the legendary Judy Garland, my years have witnessed Madonna and Kylie as the front runners with Babs and Cher picking up the rear (so to speak). But while, for gay men, it is female stars that predominate, just to be a female star does not by definition make a figure 'iconic'- Julia Roberts for instance is not a gay icon. And whilst some icons have gay links (e.g. Joan Crawford's reputed lesbian relationship, Liza Minnelli's gay husband), homosexuality as such is not evidenced to be the key issue. So then, we must ask, what is?
After watching Rick Skye so capably assume the persona of Liza Minnelli, I came to appreciate it must be a unique combination of vulnerability and strength. Apart from those big searching eyes, the choppy helmet of hair, the hoofer's long legs, the most distinct part of Liza is the sound of her voice, a brassy, belting bray beneath which lies a reservoir of vulnerability.
Rick Skye portrays a life of ups and downs: Liza's unwise selection of husbands, her addiction to drink and drugs, the haunting ghost of her mother, and the glittering success of her career. Through renditions of Cabaret, New York New York and Over the Rainbow, he captures a career filled with highs and lows and a life much larger, and often removed, from the rest.
And therein must lie Minnelli's appeal to gay men, in particular, (and this female New Yorker) as both a fantasy figure in which we see aspects of our own lives; as well as a basis for a common sub cultural knowledge. Minnelli, the sacred beast, appeals to anyone who has loved and suffered, who has been madly happy and desperately sad. With sardonic and self deprecating humour, Skye brings this batty but unbowed superstar alive on the stage. By its end, A Slice of Minnelli made me fall in love with Liza, with Skye and with the stage that is life.
Book now, last night was standing room only:
Russell Street, Covent Garden
020 7943 4750
until 10th Sept, £12.50-£15
The Theatre Museum is sadly in danger of closing so if you have never seen this ode to the sensational wonder that is London theatre, leave time to wander around before the show. There is also an open bar throughout and at £10/bottle of wine you can complement the merriment, or just self-medicate Minnelli style.