Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Glenn with a Double N

♪♫ It's Glenn with a Double N
Not Glen with one N
'Cause Glen with one N goes "n" not "nn"
It's NN instead of N
Gle instead of Gly
Simple as be
See Glenn! ♫♪

One of the original songs from Liza Minnelli's Liza with a Z ("a concert for television" as the opening credits inform us) is "Say Liza (Liza with a Z)" in which the grand Liza sings about how often her name is mispronounced, miss-spelled and generally butchered by the masses. I can relate. I have spent my entire life spelling my name for people, not even taking a second to let the person ask "one n or two?" because I just know that the person will automatically assume it is one. It is not one, it is two. I've had teachers of six years continue to spell it incorrectly. I get emails from film people wanting me to spruik their product, but if they spell my name wrong I tend to send it straight into the trash bin. And I actually have had some think my name was "Glyn", which is odd since that's hardly the more common name.

Liza gets it.

I finally got around to watching said 1972 special for which Liza Minnelli won an Emmy and director/choreographer Bob Fosse won two. It came the same year that Minnelli won an Academy Award for Cabaret and a Tony Award for her contribution to Broadway. She and Bob Fosse won the trifecta of awards within the same year, which I don't think had happened before and hasn't happened since.

The show is a delight to watch from start to finish. Minnelli has been in the spotlight a lot these past ten years or so with her marriage and subsequent divorce, her appearance on cult television series Arrested Development as well as mainstream hits such as Idol and her concert series' and album releases. Just this month she appeared on screen in Sex and the City 2 and if that appearance left you wondering just what on Earth the big deal is with this woman then sit down and watch the 50 extraordinary minutes of Liza with a Z and you'll see. Actually, watch Cabaret first and then watch Liza with a Z. The term "a force of nature" gets applied to Liza a lot and with that red hot double shot of 1972 brilliance it's hard to not fall back on cliche and call her that yourself.

The show is astounding, it really is. 50 minutes of Broadway excellence. Amazing renditions of standards like "Son of a Preacher Man", "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "My Mammy" sit alongside a trio of Cabaret classics "Wilkommen", "Money", "Maybe This Time" and "Life is a Cabaret" as well as original tracks such as "Say Liza (Liza with a Z)", "Yes" and the glorious musical comedy of "Ring Them Bells". My favourite number was "I Gotcha" originally sung by Joe Tex. It's a dazzling eye-popping performance with killer choreography and a vocal performance by Minnelli that is a step out of the norm.

Incredible stuff. And I haven't even mentioned Bob Fosse's choreography and direction, the cinematography and editing or the fact many things that have been inspired by this collaboration. This is why Liza is still so renowned. If you're not willing to discover why then that's your own fault.

1 comment:

morningside omnivore said...

"i gotcha" is totally the best one! the dress, the back-up dancers, everything.

also, "liza with a z" is basically the hardest song to sing along to ever. which is guess is appropriate, since it basically makes no sense for any but liza minnelli (and very devoted drag queens) to sing it.

the version i saw came with a pretty delightful commentary in which liza constantly refers to the other dancers as "the kids" and does impressions of fosse.

-mark (the shark)