Already a huge success in Dublin and a tour of Ireland, this sparkling show about Liza Minnelli is simply first class entertainment.
This is not a cabaret show of a few well known numbers, but a dramatic play with songs, to take us behind the scenes of Liza’s life and career, aided and abetted by having a world famous mother, the legendary Judy Garland.
A fascinating film clip of Judy and a teenage Liza is shown on screen before Sharon Sexton walks through the theatre and steps on stage. The setting is her dressing room, with a rail of glamorous concert gowns, make up mirror, photographs, a feather boa draped over a chair. The hair, wide eyes, fluttering eyelashes, the husky tone of voice, this is Liza.
For the next hour, we hear her personal story from childhood to Tony Award winning actress. After seeing her first musical, Gypsy, Liza knew that musical theatre was her dream career. But how do you compete with a superstar mother who is not too keen on the idea ?
But Judy packs her off to New York, aged just 16, and told she was on her own financially. She had to show real talent, not family influence, to get a Broadway role.
Sharon seamlessly narrates witty anecdotes about the tough world of auditions and casting producers. She was desperate to play Sally Bowles in the stage musical of Cabaret, even though an English singer was wanted by Hal Prince. She later proved she was perfect as Sally, with a blisteringly hot performance in the film Cabaret – for which she won an Oscar as best actress.
After a neatly choreographed rendition of Mein Herr, we learn that the scene in the movie required 72 takes, and the chair had to be nailed to the floor!
Liza had made it in show business without her mother’s help, and was now in the limelight on her own. As her musical career flourished, it was the beginning of the end for Judy, too dependent on drink and drugs; memories of her mother are described with such sadness, it’s heartbreaking.
Cillian O’Donnachadha has written a beautifully crafted and concise portrait of Liza which spans from the time she was born – Frank Sinatra was the first visitor to see her in hospital ! - to the tragic early death of her beloved mother.
It’s a heartwarming tale as we see how Liza embraced the legacy of being her mother’s daughter, to follow in her footsteps on to the stage and finally prove her outstanding talent as a superstar herself. She could now emerge from under the rainbow and put on Dorothy’s glittering red shoes.
In a nutshell, Sharon Sexton does not just portray Liza, she embodies her emotionally, capturing her adorable, charismatic personality in mind and spirit with true showbiz style.
Show times: 3 – 18 August, 5:15pm daily.
Ticket prices: £8 (£6).