Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Slice O' Minnelli

Liza Minnelli must be the world's greatest living gay icon. As such it was with little surprise that gay men packed out the Theatre Museum last night for Rick Skye's female impersonation A Slice of Minnelli. As an avid enthusiast of London's musical theatre scene, I am not a stranger to finding myself a rare female amongst an audience of gay men. Of course, many musical theatre fans are heterosexual, and not all gay men have "musicalmania," but there is a widespread, inter-generational relationship between gays and musicals. Combine that with a dream role in Liza Minnelli for a female impersonator, and you have a guaranteed gay sensation.

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:

Theatre Museum
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.


Anonymous Bill said...

Liza is legend! So sad to hear she is going through such a nasty divorce. Guest is a prick I hope there wasnt a woman there impersonating him. All the nasty things he is saying about her giving him an STD and such. Worse than Macca even got. This show sounds good.

5:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly Minnelli has started drinking again, insisting she has stuck to her vow to stay sober -- she'd been spotted knocking back whiskey and cokes at a New York restaurant and the story was confirmed by the restaurant's manager who says he is not worried about being sued because he has all the evidence on videotape.

5:35 pm  
Anonymous Claire said...

But would Liza be anything if her mother hadn't been Judy Garland?

5:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great find City Slicker. We never knew the Theatre Museum existed. Wasn't it once part of teh V&A I thought they had shut it down obviously not. Shame shame on me a spart of stage crew should know better.
Just booked 3 seats for Sat afternoon show will give me plenty of time to celebrate afterwards the night away in Covent Garden. Should be a great time. Thanks

6:09 pm  
Anonymous gayinbrixton said...

The saddest thing about all this is that Judy Garland’s dad was gay, as were two of Garland’s husbands, including Vincente Minnelli, Liza’s dad. So was Liza’s first husband, Peter Allan (Gest is the fourth). Liza seems genetically compelled to only recognise love from one kind of man. Ironically, this makes her a tragic icon for the gay community, which means she spends even more time in and around that community, which only seems to make the problem worse. This is only conjecture, but she seems to have the worst gaydar of all time.

6:38 pm  
Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I believe a huge part of Liza Minnelli's enduring appeal is that she's both vulnerable (like her mother) and accessible at the same time.

A couple years ago, after having taken in The Producers in New York, I walked down an uncrowded 45th Street about 10:45 pm talking to a friend on my cell phone. Much to my surprise, there Liza was -- completely all smiles posing with a couple young women for a photograph -- directly in front of me.

As she made her way past me, I said hello. She certainly didn't need to stop, but she did and was exceedingly gracious -- in fact, she even offered to say "good night" to the friend I was talking to on my mobile.

It's one of those magical moments I'll never forget.

6:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am blusing Miss city slicker. Ohh how I do love Miss Liza M.
But do try and stay away from gay men we can be a lot of trouble :-)

11:15 pm  
Anonymous blythe said...

Is there one single moment, perhaps a few seconds, in Liza M's life, from the time she wakes up and goes to sleep, that is not phony, embellished, elaborated, scripted, contorted, staged, play-acted or dramatized?

12:49 am  
Anonymous Ella said...

In the ensuing $10 million divorce battle, Liza Minnelli is now accusing David Gest of trying to poison her, and that she feared for her life during her marriage. This is going to be fun.

10:15 am  
Anonymous gossipsmacker said...

LIZA MINNELLI is now dating a new toyboy - a 27-year-old Austrian royal.

Liza 59, who is still fighting for a divorce from estranged husband DAVID GEST, is reportedly dating PRINCE MAX OF SCHAUMBURG-LIPPE - the former lover of socialites IVANA TRUMP and PARIS HILTON.

The European royal has confirmed the romance to US tabloid National Enquirer, stating the actress/singer is his perfect match: "Liza is American royalty. She's a princess... Women like Liza are truly alluring."

10:17 am  
Blogger Shep said...

Shep fact: I secretly love musicals. Give me South Pacific over Mission Impossible 3 any day.

For God's sake don't tell anyone though...

11:04 am  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Slicky-- I actually saw Liza at the Albert Hall a few years ago (we have a friend who works in the box office there who gives us tickets as they needed to fill the space so said diva wouldn't be put out). It was quite an emotional live experience- she certainly put everything on stage, the way her mother did, and I was left with the feeling that her most enduring and important relationship is the one with her fans.

Her comeback at the RAH was during the David Gest days, and the only off-note of the evening was when he came up to congratulate her with a big stonking tongue kiss...urgh!!

Oh, and according to the aforementioned box office friend, Gest was a nightmare client- he called every day to see how the show was selling and threw constant hissy fits when the sales weren't up to scratch.

11:43 am  
Anonymous Tom said...

I love LIZA too...
That voice, those lips, that face...
That connections he makes with all us tragic sacred beasts as you say City Slicker
Well done!

11:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sad old bunch of bitchy queens. Do you really believe everything you read? And to watch some old drag queen impersonate a legend is dull, dull, dull. Go see the real Minnelli - live. I did last month in Athens and boy was she fantastic! Powerful, strong, and in great voice. If she was so down & out how the hell do you think she could have toured for the past two years or have landed roles in Arrested Development, Oh in Ohio, and the forthcoming Law & Order. Go bitch about somebody really bad - like Madonna.

6:10 pm  
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10:46 am  

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