When I arrived at The Palace Theatre for the opening of Liza’s show the red carpet was waiting for its VIP guests. Cameramen and interviewers from the various networks and internet sites were poised inside the lobby. However, outside there were three people with a huge banner that said “Minnesota Loves Liza” getting lots of attention.
So I sidled up to the guy from NY1 and listened in. The woman, from Minnesota, was the mother of one of the guys (who lives in Chelsea) and his friend. They are all great fans of Liza and couldn’t wait to see the show. I thought to ask them a few questions myself – but hesitated as other people were interviewing them with microphones and video equipment. They had become the center of attention before the likes of Elaine Stritch, Liz Smith, Sandra Bernhard, Michele Lee, Julie Halston and Linda Lavin arrived.
I took my seat in the mezzanine – my favorite spot in the theatre – that’s where “from the rear mezzanine” comes from and who sits down opposite me but the famous three from Minnesota.
During intermission I got to speak with them. Her son had just been able to arrange for tickets the day before and called his sister to get Mama on a plane to see Liza. Mama had to drive through a blizzard to get to the airport to get to the theatre but there she was – happy as a lark. They were enjoying the show tremendously and the trip was certainly worth the huge effort it took to get to the Big Apple. They really were such nice folks. That’s what I call “faithful fans”.
In another flashback in the life of Oscar I remembered seeing Judy Garland at the Palace with my college mate Irwin Pearl. The year was 1967. The show – At Home At The Palace with Judy Garland and Lorna and Joey Luft. Now Irwin and I didn’t have tickets. But Irwin had done this before and told me not to worry about a thing. We were about to crash the second act of the show. Just mingle with the crowd he instructed and when the lights start to flash casually walk in with the crowd. I did as he had instructed and we found ourselves sitting on the stairs of the mezzanine not far from the seat I had to see Liza on her opening night. Irwin and I had a great time and nobody said a word to us. I suppose the ushers felt sorry for two young guys who wanted to see the show. I don’t know. We just sat there, mesmerized by Judy.