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August 18th, 2012

The genius of Minnelli is that she's never NOT aware of who she is, and more importantly, Where she is. There's a truly courageous part of this piece where Liza, in the middle of what seems like a performance, suddenly, and without hesitation, looks up and speaks to her father. There's no warm up, no warning, and nothing preceding it that should logically lead us into what we feel is a "scene" of some kind. There's no text beforehand, no shaping of a character, and nothing telegraphing this moment. It simply happens, and all the time Liza's been singing to us, for us, and at us, comes together and is contextualized in the dialogue she has with her Dad.

This is an actor who knows she is acting Rose. She is the mother of these children and she needs to get her kids out of this small town, and more than anything in the world, she desperately needs eighty egitht bucks.

This is also an actor who knows she's in concert.

At no time does she forget that. Watch what happens to her the moment after she's denied the money. Her Shape changes from upright and steady, with her feet planted firmly on the ground as she growls at Dad, and suddenly, as she's rejected, she twists herself half way around the microphone stand, and screams to her orchestra to:


She Gestures up towards the Universe as the music swells and pulsates and she's right back at us. She doesn't need to take a moment to get rid of dear ole Dad, or grab a towel, or "shake off her character". She doesn't need to do this because she is both Rose and NOT Rose.

Minnelli innately lives in a liminal space of being who she is and understanding the character. And more to the point, she lives and thrives in a place of complete wholeness. She burns with a light that ignites these women that are already inside her and being released with a fury and a joy that's both gorgeous and frenetic, and yet her specificity into the truth of Rose as she pleads with her Dad to save her life, is just as true and just as brilliant. All this lives in that one, small moment where most actors might need a reason Why:

"Why am I suddenly singing to a stadium full of people when I was just speaking to my father?"

Liza simply goes.

She is her, and she isn't.

At the same time.