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The Act

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Album Review

Although she had served briefly as a replacement in the musical Chicago in 1975, Liza Minnelli returned to Broadway in her own show for the first time in 12 years with The Act, which opened in New York on October 29, 1977. With music and lyrics by her favorite songwriting team, John Kander and Fred Ebb, it was a backstage musical concerning a fading film star attempting a comeback in Las Vegas. But the thin plot was really just an excuse to put the star on-stage in a bunch of new songs; except for one choral number, "Little Do They Know," Minnelli sang every song in the show. Kander and Ebb tended to enjoy their greatest successes with period works, especially those set in the 1920s (Chicago) or '30s (Cabaret), for which Kander could apply his expertise in hot jazz styles and Ebb could vent his negative world view. But The Act was set in the present day; while Kander threw in the occasional disco rhythm and electric guitar lick, he really didn't have a feel for the music of the 1970s, and it showed. Ebb's free-floating cynicism was at home in the era of Watergate, of course, but it ran counter Minnelli's "the show must go on" enthusiasm. As a result, the score failed her, and that's what one gets on a cast album which is little more than a Minnelli solo recording with the thinnest indication that the performances derive from a book musical. Minnelli sings the songs with her usual verve, vanishing only for "Little Do They Know" and its reprise, a song that addresses the star-vehicle nature of the project. Fittingly, Minnelli won a Tony award for her performance, but the show itself lost out. It ran 233 performances, closing after eight months.


Born: 12 March 1946 in Hollywood, CA

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although singer/actress Liza Minnelli can count Academy Award-winning film roles, Tony Award-winning musical theater performances, Emmy Award-winning television specials, and gold-selling records among her accomplishments, she is primarily a concert performer whose career has been defined by a series of stage acts dating back to her nightclub debut in 1965. Her best work in film, in the musical theater, and on television has taken advantage of and grown out of her reputation as a live performer,...
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