New York's Premier Liza Impersonator, Rick Skye, Shares His Favorite Liza Minnelli Videos
Rick Skye, who won the 2017 MAC Award for “Best Impersonation,” returns to Don’t Tell Mama on November 25 with his monthly variety show Bazaaz! A Sequined Variety, which features Skye’s heralded impersonation as Liza Minnelli complete with his own singing voice!
Scroll on as Rick shares with BroadwayBox his five ultimate Liza videos and why each made the cut.
Liza Minnelli has been the Gold Standard in entertainment for me ever since I saw those long legs wrapped around the chair in Cabaret. The old fashioned show business razzle dazzle that is ingrained in her bones, coupled with her ultra modern sensibility, helped her to retain the best of the old and blaze her own streamlined, electrifying path into the future. The big eyes, the big heart, the big voice—well, you get the point. When she appeared in Chicago on Broadway, one critic said that what she brought to the production was 'Technicolor and Stereophonic Sound' and all of her high energy, detailed, emotion infused performances since have borne that hallmark. So, let's see a bit of the ole Bazazz!, Shall we?
"I Will Wait for You" (1972)
Liza, part gamine, all emotion and heart is at her peak singing this gallic ballad (in English, natch). Her French heritage on Daddy's side gives her a special affinity for all things French as her mentorship with the great Charles Aznavour would prove. This Michel LeGrand song is the perfect vehicle for her particular talents. Heartfelt and achingly dramatic, it is nonetheless completely honest and controlled. Every time I see this, I fall in love with her all over again.
"Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" (1973)
This Royal Command Performance from 1973 captures her at a crossroads. Wearing the white gown she wore to the gala dinner in Cabaret where she dances divinely for both Bryan and Max, she builds and builds this old chestnut into a modern anthem with a wail all its own. Replaced in future concerts with "Shine on Harvest Moon" this, to me, captures the moment when "Judy's Kid" became "Liza!!", singular sensation.
"Say, Yes" from Liza with a Z (1973)
"Say, Yes!" Was there ever a marriage between a singer and a song that was quite as perfect as this? The song states perfectly her attitude towards life. I particularly love how this song, originally from the Kander and Ebb musical, 70 Girls 70, was given the "Liza treatment" by the arranger. The perfect way to open her landmark musical special Liza with a Z, it reintroduced her to American audiences who had seen her grow and mature on television since the age of 16. After the success of Cabaret, this new, mature, self-assured Liza would go on to put the "Liza" stamp on many such standards. I'm forever asking accompanists, "Do you know the LIZA version...?"
"City Lights" from The Act (1978)
Then there's the dancing, dancing, dancing. I'll never forget second acting The Act fifty times just to see this number. It was raucous yet precise and I always flinched when she caught the cordless microphone in the middle of the dance. How does she DO that? I went on to see her dance her way through Radio City Music Hall, Minnelli on Minnelli, and, most recently, Liza's at the Palace! I had the opportunity then to ask her how she managed to come up with my favorite of all of her shows, with so much dancing in it at that stage in her career. She said, "I think I must be crazy!" Not as crazy as I am about this number, I bet.
"Pour Faire une Jam" (1991)
I guess you thought I'd be posting "Maybe this time", "But the World Goes Round" or some version of "New York, New York" in this spot, but I think this is one of the fiercest (is there such a word?) performances ever committed to tape. The arrangement, the chemistry with Charles Aznavour, the jazz, the Bazazz, the Fizzle Fazz of it all! That blazing energy, the legs, the flinging around of the voice—ah! Minnelli at her peak! C'est magnifique!!
See Rick Skye as Liza in 'Bazaaz! A Sequined Variety' at Don't Tell Mama.