LIZA LIVE! created and performed by Jennifer Walls (Total Betty). Factory Antechamber (125 Bathurst). See listing.
Times: January 5 at 9 pm, January 6 at 4:15 and 6:15 pm, January 9 at 8:45 pm, January 12 at 3:45 and 6:15 pm, January 13 at 8:30 pm. $10. 416-966-1962. Rating: NNN
Take a musical trip down memory lane with Jennifer Walls, whose cabaret show Liza Live! both touchingly reveals and also occasionally sends up the life and work of Liza Minnelli.
Walls does a fine impersonation of the more famous of Judy Garland's daughters, complete with vibrato when she holds a note and Minnelli's occasionally and intentionally raspy intonation as well.
The premise for the 30-minute show, directed by Byron Laviolette, is that Minnelli has come to Toronto to talk about herself and her famous mother, for whom the singer's rewritten some of the words to Minnelli's best-known song, Cabaret.
The musical sections, including songs indelibly connected with the singer (New York, New York and Maybe This Time), are the best parts of the evening, not only because of Walls's voice but also the presence and personality she brings to Minnelli. Accompanied by pianist Donavon LeNabat and percussionist Jamie Bird, she alternates sadness and brashness in her rendition of tunes, among them her mother's anthem, Over The Rainbow.
Walls has a good rapport with the audience - this is an interactive production, which includes a game-show section devoted to facts about Liza's life - and the ad-libs are the right combination of send-up and sincere. The scripted comedy, though, often falls flat.