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MINNELLI MADNESS

GO Brooklyn Editor
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Apologies to my readers who have no doubt been waiting with bated breath for this dispatch about one of the world’s most gossiped about performers, Liza Minnelli, who showed up in an enormous white limo to kick off the Seaside Summer Concert Series in Coney Island on July 14.

Too many late nights carousing, er, reporting left me swooning from fever on my chaise longue, my preferred gin martini and Altoids replaced with tiny plastic cups of noxiously sweet cherry cough syrup and antibiotics. But as soon as GO Girl’s energy returned, she raced to the office, as fast as her bejeweled flip-flops could carry her, to file this report:

The anticipation of Minnelli’s impending arrival on the borough’s most kitschy strip was almost too much to bear for fans of Broadway show tunes and gay men, alike. (Forgive me, if I’m being redundant.) But as the concert date neared, GO Girl’s friends were mysteriously evasive about accepting her invitation to the show.

Well, who needs them, when you’re in the audience and Minnelli’s in the spotlight? And GO Girl certainly wasn’t alone, as more than 8,000 of Liza’s legions were lured to the event, several stopping on the sidewalk to admire each other’s concert tees.

The opening act was a tough one to follow because it came within minutes of lulling the crowd into a deep sleep. It seemed every Brooklyn politician in existence was passed the microphone by the concert series’ host, Borough President Marty Markowitz, and took their turn begging for votes. City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, who’s running for mayor, not only spoke to the aged crowd but shamelessly pandered to them with a performance of "Young at Heart" a la Frank Sinatra.

And after they were done, inexplicably, the Consul General of Turkey took the mic and told the crowd, "We hope to see all of you people in Brooklyn, in Istanbul."

To say the least, GO Girl’s senses were dulled and her enthusiasm was rapidly waning.

It was revealed that the entertainer most hungry for the footlights was not the staff sergeant from the Fort Hamilton Army Base, who sang the national anthem, but 7-year-old Sheepshead Bay resident Veronica Gorelik, who regaled the crowd with "God Bless America" to recorded music accompaniment.

The applause couldn’t sate the appetite of little Veronica, who later jumped on stage during Minnelli’s curtain call - not to offer the diva a bouquet of flowers - but to foist her head shot into the star’s hand. Minnelli, to her credit, didn’t miss a beat and included the child in her bows.

When the introductions finally ended and the spotlight did hit Minnelli, the number of sequins on her white pantsuit doubled the wattage and those of us in the first four rows gasped and held up our hands to shield our eyes. After all, Minnelli is a star. She’s the indomitable and hilarious Lucille on Fox-TV’s "Arrested Development" and will return to the silver screen as a sex therapist in Billy Kent’s "The OH in Ohio" this fall along with Parker Posey, Paul Rudd and Danny DeVito.

In her Coney Island set, at Asser Levy Park on Surf Avenue and West Fifth Street, the daughter of Hollywood legend Judy Garland and filmmaker Vincente Minnelli frequently exhibited the comic timing for which she’s been getting so much work of late. She also demonstrated those famous vocal cords and jazz hands.

Although the first time GO Girl saw Minnelli at work was in "The Muppets Take Manhattan," this performance was much more memorable and poignant as she sang "Time has left us older and wiser - I know I am," while balmy ocean breezes caressed the crowd. But under the spotlight, it seems the evening air wasn’t so rejuvenating.

"I can’t breathe at all. It’s like peanut butter," complained Minnelli rather unconvincingly. If only peanut butter could make GO Girl sing like that!

When the tabloid-plagued singer told the crowd, "I have something surprising to tell you," it seemed that everyone sat up in their seats a little straighter. One man yelled his inquiry, "You’re pregnant?" But Minnelli only shared that she liked to sing folk ballads, pronouncing them "buh-LAHDS," before launching into a hilarious performance of a risque song about a woman who’s sidetracked on her way to meet her lover in London - by every other man she sees on her journey.

Minnelli has won numerous awards - a Golden Globe, Emmy and Oscar (and even a Razzie Award for "Arthur 2: On the Rocks," but let those without sin cast the first stone, alright?) - so it would seem more than fair if she only gave 45 minutes of her time for a free performance. But not our Liza! The glamour-puss left the stage for a costume change - slipping into a shoulder-baring shimmer of black sequins! - and regaled the crowd with another set with her band of a dozen supremely talented musicians.

Orgasmic fans, unable to contain themselves, repeatedly called to their goddess, "I love you, Liza!"

To which she batted her lashes and returned their unbridled passion with, "Oh, god! I’ll never forget tonight. I’ll never forget you!"

Afterward, the borough president told GO Girl, "In my 23 years of producing these concerts, that performance [by Liza Minnelli] was certainly near the top."

Brooklyn Papers photographer Tom Callan later spotted Minnelli and her entourage on the Cyclone rollercoaster and noshing at Nathan’s.

As GO Girl shuffled out into the darkness around the venue, being jostled to and fro by what appeared to be hundreds of concertgoers sucking from oxygen tanks when not yelling for "Doris" and "George" with urgent, raspy voices, I was filled with hope that "Liza with a Z" would indeed sing again in Brooklyn some day.


Coming up

Pull out your Blackberries, and save Aug. 11, for a performance by singer Patti LaBelle, and Aug. 18, for singer Michael Bolton at the Seaside Summer Concert Series.

For more information on supporting the free concert series, call (718) 469-1912 or visit www.brooklynconcerts.com.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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