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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.

Customer Reviews

What is this?

I have never ever heard of this show or this recording but I am delighted to have found it on itunes. Anything with Liza Minelli must be worth listening to a least a few times. My favorite so far is the reprise of Little do they know.

I saw it!

I actually saw this show on opening night. The audience was filled with celebs (Kander and Ebb, Halston, Tony Walton, Martin Scorcese--even Betty White and Alan Ludden, who sat next to me!). It was an amazing crowd, I must say. The producers couldn't come up with a name that fit the show (which wasn't that bad, really) but a great deal of confusion was created when they decided upon "In Person." The tickets were printed LIZA MINNELLI in "In Person," so naturally everybody thought it was a concert rather than a book musical. Things didn't get any better when they changed the name to "The Act" a few days before opening. Needless to say, Liza was wonderful; she was in great voice and wore the Halston costumes really well. Tony Walton's sets were just okay, not up to his usual 'terrific.' The Arthur in the Afternoon number was a real showstopper; Liza dancing with a really hot Asian man wearing nothing but pants with white suspenders which Liza really worked! The Money Tree number was another really great number. I have enjoyed the LP for years---a really great memory of a wonderful theatrical experience---and now will enjoy the CD. I hope you do as well.

Great tunes! Great Liza!

The show was a colossal trainwreck but at least the wonderful Kander & Ebb score was preserved. Of course "City Lights" and "My Own Space" were the stand out hits but "The Money Tree" is an under-appreciated showstopper and "Bobo's" shows is the quintessential crazy Liza tune. Gotta love this CD!


Born: March 12, 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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