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MASTER ILLUSIONIST by Angela Bauer (taken from The Indianapolis Star)
INDIANAPOLIS Liza Minnelli didnt think shed ever share the stage again with her mother, the late Judy Garland that was before Jim Bailey. In 1995, Minnelli and Bailey, a character actor, performed together in Las Vegas. Minnelli recruited Bailey for the show after she saw him impersonate her mother, who died in 1969.
It was a great compliment to me, said Bailey, who performed two shows in Indianapolis earlier this week. I loved it because it was as if she was seeing her mother. Bailey said Garland was flattered by his portrayal of her when she saw his show early in his career. The legendary singer died before he fully developed his act. I wish she could see how Ive grown, said Bailey, whos been performing for more than 25 years.
Audiences saw how much he has grown when Mr. Bailey presents Garland and Barbra Streisand. The Tuesday night audience rewarded that growth with a standing ovation. You cant see the seams in what I do, Bailey said. The audience always gets carried away in a moment. Bailey said he was the first entertainer to venture into the world of impersonation. Others have followed, he said, but very few have the vocal skills to sing their own music. I made it OK for a man to perform in a dress, he said.
Bailey is more than a man who performs in a dress. He earned a degree in opera performance at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music. Those vocal skills enable him to match the unique sound of Garland and Streisand.