An evening with Liza Minnellii, now in the middle of a six-day stint at the Kennedy Center's Opera House, doesn't hold many surprises, but it sure is a lot of fun.
From the start, when Minnelli bounds onto the stage singing the first bars of "How Long Has This Been Going On?" without the benefit of her 12-man band (they trail in one by one), she has the audience won over, and the flirtation succeeds until the last, a haunting version of "Shine On Harvest Moon."
"I love playing roles," Minnelli says. So the role-playing ranges from Charles Aznavour's bittersweet ballad "Happy Anniversary" to a raucous "Arthur in the Afternoon" by John Kander and Fred Ebb, who wrote her Broadway show "The Act."
The theme songs from "Cabaret" and "New York, New York" are sung lovingly, like old friends. The latter closes a New York medley which she performs with Roger Minami and Obba Babatunde, two singer-dancer types with fast feet and big smiles.
The band, perched up on a structure that looks like a jungle gym, plays ably, but it's Minnelli who calls the shots all the way.
Standing-room-only tickets will be sold 30 minutes before each performance -- Friday at 8, Saturday at 6 and 9:30, and Sunday at 8.