PORTLAND – Once a diva, always a diva.

Megastar Liza Minnelli postponed her concert in Portland on Wednesday, just a few hours before she was due on stage at Merrill Auditorium. She complained of a stomach virus and flew home to New York.

“When she doesn’t feel well, she wants to go back home to her regular doctor,” said Aimee Petrin, executive director of Portland Ovations, which was to present the show.

About 1,400 people bought tickets to the concert.

Petrin said Portland Ovations is working with Minnelli’s management to reschedule the show. She asked ticket holders to “hang on to their tickets until further notice. We should know something very soon.”

Minnelli arrived in Portland late Tuesday. She was to receive the key to the city on Tuesday afternoon, but postponed that ceremony until Wednesday because she had a commitment in New York related to the release of her new CD, “Confessions.”

Petrin said she got a call about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday from Minnelli’s manager. The concert was to begin at 7:30 p.m.

“I was just about to go over to Merrill for the sound check. Her assistant called the production manager and said, ‘I can’t bring her over.’ There is no concern or suspicion that this is anything other than the flu or a stomach bug,” Petrin said.

Portland Ovations announced the postponement around 4:30 p.m., and began contacting media outlets and ticket holders. PortTix, the Merrill box office, stayed open to help people who were unaware of the postponement and showed up for the concert.

The postponement was not unusual for Minnelli. Already this year, she has postponed or canceled concerts in at least three other cities.

The news was a blow to fans, who anticipated the opportunity to hear a superstar perform in person. Minnelli, 64, has won all of the major entertainment awards — a Tony, Oscar, Grammy and Emmy — during a career that has spanned almost a half-century.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard it,” said Jean Meyer of South Portland. “I was so looking forward to it. I was all pumped up and ready to go. I was going to dress right up. I am really, really disappointed, but I can understand. Things can happen.”

Petrin said the postponement reinforces the idea that entertainers, no matter how famous they are, have the same challenges as everybody else.

“It’s not a job that you can fake your way through. You can’t show up when you are sick and hope nobody notices,” she said. “We are dealing with human beings. It’s not the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last time.”

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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