Judy and Liza—Once in a Lifetime shows the bond between two divas | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Judy and Liza—Once in a Lifetime shows the bond between two divas 

A cabaret homage to Garland and Minnelli lights up the Greenhouse.

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click to enlarge Judy and Liza—Once in a Lifetime

Judy and Liza—Once in a Lifetime

Tyler Core

UPDATE Wednesday, March 18: this event has been canceled. Refunds available at point of purchase.


This cabaret by singer-actors Nancy Hays and Alexa Castelvecchi pays homage to two of the greatest performers of the 20th century: Judy Garland and her daughter Liza Minnelli, who teamed up in November 1964 for a pair of concerts at the historic London Palladium, one of which was televised. At the time, Judy was a 42-year-old veteran of movies, TV, and vaudeville, while Minnelli was an 18-year-old fledgling on the brink of a promising career. Accompanied by a trio led by pianist Robert Ollis, Hays and Castelvecchi don't try to imitate Garland and Minnelli; instead, through song and storytelling, they share their own perspectives on the stars' enduring influence on them as artists in their own right.

Hays is a fine singer who shines in more reflective moments—her introspective rendition of "Over the Rainbow" is genuinely touching. And Castelvecchi is a dynamic belter and comic whose knockout rendition of the standard "Who's Sorry Now?" is a first-act highlight; even more gripping is her second-act rendition of "Quiet Please, There's a Lady Onstage," the song that Minnelli's onetime husband Peter Allen wrote in Garland's memory following her 1969 death from an accidental overdose of barbiturates. The show's best moments are the duet medleys, in which Hays and Castelvecchi evoke the deep and honest affection that bonded mother and daughter in both triumphant and trying times.  v

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