Liza Minnelli keeping things simple and having fun on 2014 concert tour 

Some performers are mononyms by design, like Cher or Madonna. Others evolve into mononyms because the sheer force of their talent and personality makes a surname, no matter how celebrated, superfluous. The point will be proven Friday when Davies Symphony Hall is home to “Simply Liza.”

The concert title is unintentionally ironic, since there’s rarely been anything simple about Liza Minnelli. Complexity is in her genes. The triple-threat artist — the child of Judy Garland, one of the world’s legendary performers, and masterful film director Vincent Minnelli — has been in the spotlight since she made her film debut as a toddler in her parents’ film “In the Good Old Summertime” in 1949.

“This one’s called ‘Simply Liza’ because it’s small,” says Minnelli. “There’s only six or seven musicians and me. That’s it!”

She laughs at the suggestion that it could have been called “Unencumbered Liza” when compared with her lavish and Emmy-winning television concert “Liza with a Z” or her many returns to Broadway’s Palace Theater. “Absolutely! But I’m having such fun with this one.”

She’s having fun with lots of things. She turned 68 this month and is making several tour stops in California. In between concerts she continues her philanthropic efforts, including appearing at a Los Angeles fundraiser last week.

The event was hosted by drag performer Miss Coco Peru and Liza commented online, “Coco and I are going to share an intimate conversation between a couple of girlfriends and raise a whole bunch of money for the LGBT homeless youth.”

Earlier this month, Minnelli had another drag moment, but only by proxy, when Oscar ceremony host Ellen DeGeneres made reference to her as “one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators I have ever seen in my life,” closing with, “Good job, sir!”

Minnelli shrugged it off, later commenting that she didn’t think the joke landed, as comedians say, and that she didn’t think Ellen meant anything disrespectful on the night when Minnelli was there with half-siblings Lorna and Joe Luft to pay tribute to their mother, an experience she called “so emotional and so thrilling.”

Honoring her parental legacy — the Minnellis are the only Oscar-winning mother-father-daughter clan, among so many other accomplishments — has always been important to the also Tony-winning star. Still, she demurs when asked about what she sees as her own legacy.

“I think you think about that when you think you’re gonna die, don’t you?” She’d rather keep it in the present. “I’m excited about the new show,” she says, “and I’m really excited about coming to you!”

IF YOU GO

Liza Minnelli

Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $25 to $150

Contact: (415) 864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org

About The Author

Robert Sokol

Robert Sokol

Bio:
Robert Sokol is the editor at BAYSTAGES, the creative director at VIA MEDIA, and a lifelong arts supporter. Diva wrangler, cinefiler, and occasional saloon singer, he has been touching showbiz all his life. (So far no restraining orders have been issued!)... more
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