David Saffert and Jillian Snow Harris: Liberace and Liza: A Tribute

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David Saffert and Jillian Snow Harris

Liberace and Liza: A Tribute

Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael, Carmel, IN, August 19, 2021

Reviewed by Ron Forman

Two wonderful performers, David Saffert and Jillian Snow Harris, created the illusion that they were Liberace and Liza Minnelli. The illusion was enhanced by their not being introduced by their real names. It was also aided by their music director, Bo Ayers, on keyboards, who was, in fact, Liberace’s long time music director and arranger. As I never got to see Liberace in person, Saffert, dressed in a red-sequined outfit, made me feel that I was finally seeing that amazing entertainer. He often had the audience laughing out loud by his right-on portrayal of Liberace. Harris captured the energy and vibrance of Minnelli with her voice and movement on stage. The show contained 90 minutes of non-stop entertainment. From here on out, I will refer to them by their characters’ names.

Liberace opened with Beethoven’s “Für Elise” followed by his flamboyant version of “Chopsticks.” Liza came out belting “Back in Business” (Stephen Sondheim). Liza and Liberace joined voices for a lively “Cabaret.” Liberace softly sang the verse to “Over the Rainbow,” with Liza singing the chorus as a tribute to the real-life Liza’s mom, Judy Garland.
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Liza closed her set with a very big finish to “(Theme from) New York, New York.” Liberace performed a dazzling, who-could-ask-for-anything-more Gershwin medley beginning and ending with themes from “Rhapsody in Blue” and including the melodies from 10 of George Gershwin’s most popular songs.
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Liza returned for “Losing My Mind” and an up-tempo “The Man That Got Away.” Liberace returned wearing hot pants that drew “oohs” and “aahs” from the audience. He moved across the stage à la Liza as he performed “Stepping Out.” Liza performed the seldom-heard verse to “I Love a Piano,” and Liberace finished with his rousing work on piano. The show closed with both performers blending their voices for Liberace’s long-time closing number “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Their encore was a very lively “Roll Out the Barrell” (“Beer Barrel Polka”) that left the audience cheering.

Ron Forman

Ron Forman has been a Mathematics Professor at Kingsborough Community College for 45 years. In that time, he has managed to branch out in many different areas. From 1977 to 1994 he was co-owner of Comics Unlimited, the third largest comic book distribution company in the USA. In 1999,after a lifetime of secretly wanting to do a radio program, he began his weekly Sweet Sounds program on WKRB 90.3 FM, dedicated to keeping the music of the Great American Songbook alive and accessible. This introduced him to the world of cabaret, which led to his position as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes.