HOLLYWOOD — It started as a tribute to “Chicago” creators Kander & Ebb and turned into a Liza lovefest Saturday at Cal State L.A.’s Luckman Auditorium.
“Hello, I’m here, are you scared?,” quipped Liza Minnelli, after bringing the house down with a well-timed pause after the line from “Cabaret,” “Well, that’s what comes from too much pills and liquor.”
The raspy-voiced but game singer was among the many legit stars who turned out to pay tribute to composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb at “Sing Happy!,” a benefit for the Actors’ Fund of America.
There was an extra emphasis on songs from “Chicago,” due to honorees Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Presenting the Nedda Harrigan Logan Award, Sean Hayes said, “Because of Craig and Neil, people who never would have gotten off their asses to go see a (Broadway) musical can stay home and watch one on TV.”
Accepting the trophy (a music box that played “Cabaret”), Meron said, “It’s a great honor to be getting this for something neither Craig nor I ever considered ‘work.’ ”
Onstage standouts included Carol Channing (singing “Razzle Dazzle” in a silver lame minidress); Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker (in drag) dueting on “What’s So Wonderful?”; Jason Graae with a quartet of beauties on “All I Care About Is Love”; Florence Henderson — in full dominatrix garb — belting “When You’re Good to Mama”; and John C. Reilly doing his first live rendition of “Mr. Cellophane” from “Chicago.” Other performers included Ben Vereen, Karen Morrow, Bonnie Franklin, Charlotte Rae, Valarie Pettiford, Marin Mazzie, Wilson Cruz, Neil Patrick Harris, Jack Noseworthy, Nancy Dussault, Victor Garber and Dale Kristien.