Next Stage Theatre Festival: Liza Live!

Jennifer Walls razzle-dazzles Fringe audiences in Liza Live!

Conceived, produced and performed by Jennifer Walls
Directed by Byron Laviolette

Jennifer Walls in Liza Live! Photo Credit: Jacklyn Atlas.

In a bar on the second floor of Toronto's Factory Theatre, two well-dressed men are providing music for an intimate audience—one playing a keyboard and the other keeping time on a chunk of wood. All of a sudden, the music comes to a standstill and the keyboard player, a fedora atop his head, exclaims loudly, “Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Liza Minnelli!," as a glittering Jennifer Walls runs in, the star of Total Betty Productions' Liza Live!, now playing at the Next Stage Theatre Festival.

At just 30 minutes, Liza Live! is a spellbinding tribute to the talent and personality of Liza Minnelli. The production opens with Walls belting out “Cabaret," one of Minnelli's most well-known songs, altering the lyrics to refer to her famous mother, Judy Garland, and how the only time she saw her at peace was when she was laid out at her funeral. An enlarged photo of Garland and Minnelli in a touching mother-daughter pose stands behind Walls as she performs. The production's heavy moments are balanced out by Walls' jokes directed at Donavon Lenabat and Jamie Bird, the two well-dressed men playing Liza's back-up music.

Walls is supremely talented, and has every mannerism of Liza Minnelli perfected. Her performance of “Liza with a Z” is outstanding, and her dialogue with several audience members is entertaining throughout the production. At one point, she calls upon two audience members to take part in a trivia game, with a pink cocktail as a prize.

The true hallmark of Liza Live! is Walls' performance of “Ring Them Bells," a song she sings as everyone in the audience rings little bells passed around in a basket. Walls portrays Minnelli as someone with drive and dreams, bringing both inspiration and smiles to her intimate audience.

Liza Live! runs until January 13 at the Factory Theatre antechamber. Visit for showtimes and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Wed, 2013-01-02 - Sun, 2013-01-13
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