In her legendary 1947 nightclub act, Kay Thompson was backed by the pep and pizazz of The Williams Brothers. When Liza Minnelli takes the stage of the Palace Theatre tonight (December 3rd) to salute the great Thompson, she'll bring with her the fabulous foursome she's been traveling with for the past two years. I had a li'l chat with the fellas just days before their momentous arrival on the Great White with The Big "L". (How cute are they??)
Randy Rainbow: Did you ever dream you'd be playing The freakin' Palace with Liza freakin' Minnelli?
Jim Caruso: Surely you jest. Do you know me? Of course I dreamt I'd be playing The Palace with Liza Minnelli! When I was fifteen! Didn't you?
Tiger Martina: I have some pretty "out there" dreams, but never this good!
Cortés Alexander: When Liza first said she wanted to do the show at The Palace, I didn't really think it would happen - just based on the logistics of what it takes to get a show mounted. Given the amount of time we had, it seemed impossible. But when Liza is determined, things happen. It's amazing to see.
After touring with this show for so long, what do you anticipate will be the main highlight of bringing it to Broadway?
Jim: It will be an absolute joy to live in my own little apartment for a bit. Don't get me wrong…I love hotels. My collection of tiny shampoo bottles is the envy of all who see it. But you know you've been on the road too long when you dial '9' for an outside line…and you're at home. And the soap seems so big…
Tiger: It's the best of all possible scenerios: Sharing Liza's at The Palace with friends and family while sharing the holidays at home with Liza, the cast, the crew and our families.
Without giving too much away, do you have a favorite moment in the show?
Jim: In one number, the five of us sit on stools, I hold Liza's hand, and we all sing our faces off. It's a pure and focused moment when I get to stare at that amazing face and realize how completely lucky I am to have this job.
Tiger: I know the other guys will kill me, but I really love our "knee drop" moment!
Cortés: My favorite part is right before the show when we're all holding hands in the wings before we send her out after the overture. We can feel right away the energy of the crowd, and that's really exciting.
Johnny Rodgers: Well, of course I love every moment of the Kay Thompson segment. I don't think I've ever had more fun - singing these amazing harmonies and dancing the incredible choreography... It's the most intense and pleasurable workout you can imagine every night. I think that Liza, Ron Lewis, and Kay have put together an incredible fitness program here!
Has traveling the world with Liza been as brilliant as we all imagine it would be?
Tiger: As Kay Thompson would say..."Pure heaven!”
Cortés: The best part of touring is the travel, and the worst part of touring…is the travel. We go to amazing places all around the world, but are seldom there long enough to really take it in. Plus, getting laundry done on the road is a real factor.
What's been the most thrilling part of this experience so far?
Johnny: The performing has been great fun, but I think the most thrilling part for me has been writing a song for Liza. I had the honor of writing a brand new song with Billy Stritch and our good friend Brian Lane Green that is specially created for Liza. The song is called "I Would Never Leave You," and hearing Liza sing it in the first act fills me with pride and gratitude. I can't imagine anything more satisfying than hearing someone that you love and respect so much singing something that you wrote for her. That's a dream.
Cortés: I think the most thrilling part has been watching the billboard go up in Times Square. Suddenly, after 2 years, it all just got bumped up to something bigger than all of us. I'm really looking so forward to opening night.
Tiger: Seriously? What could be better? Getting to watch Liza walk out on stage from the wings at the start of every show! You can't even imagine!
Jim: A recent voicemail springs to mind: “Carusie, it's Liza May. We got The Palace in December! Could you faint?! Here we go…”
Liza's at the Palace... will play the Palace Theatre on Broadway December 3rd through December 28th. Visit www.lizasatthepalace.com for schedules and more info!
And be sure to check out Cortés Alexander's fabulous new CD "SWELL", available on iTunes and at CDBaby.com!