Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Liza? No, Steffi!

Musical theatre performer looks, acts like Minnelli, hopes to play her one day

  • Print

Life is a cabaret for musical theatre performer Steffi Didomenicantonio.

"At least once a day someone will tell me I look like Liza Minnelli," says Didomenicantonio. "It just became constant, on the street or at a restaurant. The joke is that I know what I will look like when I'm 50."

At 23, with her raven-coloured Liza bangs and large dark eyes rimmed with thick eyelashes, the Ottawa native is a dead ringer for the young Minnelli, who starred in The Sterile Cuckoo at the same age and earned her first Oscar nomination.

Didomenicantonio also shares some of the same personality traits -- she's adorable, talkative and full of bounce -- that emerge as she chats about her appearance in the Winnipeg Studio Theatre production of Rooms: A Rock Romance.

She first came to public attention as a 17-year-old finalist on TV's Canadian Idol in 2006 (she finished fifth). It was then that people began noticing her resemblance to Judy Garland's famous daughter. The budding triple threat knew Minnelli was considered a show-biz icon but she didn't really understand why until she was introduced to the musical movie Cabaret, in which Minnelli left her indelible mark as bohemian chanteuse Sally Bowles.

"It made me want to follow in her footsteps," says the bubbly singer/actor, who went by the easier-to-pronounce moniker Steffi Di during her Canadian Idol run. "My ultimate plan in life is to play Liza Minnelli in a biopic. I'm waiting for it. I have to make sure they ask me first."

Until then, she will have to make do with fate throwing Minnelli in her path. In a soon-to-be-released Canadian horror movie musical called Stage Fright -- starring Minnie Driver and Meatloaf -- she portrays a young musical-theatre camp-goer obsessed with Minnelli.

When she read the script for Rooms, a relatively new musical penned in 2005 by the husband-and-wife team of Paul Scott Goodman and Miriam Gordon, she was floored that it included a reference to Meatloaf, involved a talent show and featured a scene where her character, Monica, does a Minnelli impression.

"You should have seen my face when I read all that in the script," she says.

Rooms is the story of Monica, a superstar wannabe looking for someone to write music for her songs in late-'70s Glasgow. She finds Ian, a reclusive rocker, and the two quickly begin to make sweet music -- and love. They win a talent contest that takes them to London, where they fall into the burgeoning punk and rock scenes. The success of their professional partnership strains their personal relationship.

"I see a lot of myself in Monica," says Didomenicantonio, who followed up her Canadian Idol run by being cast in a North American tour of the rock musical Spring Awakening. "I was 19 when I went to New York for my callback for Spring Awakening. Nothing scared me. Monica is like that. She's so driven. I was like that."

Didomenicantonio finished high school after Canadian Idol and went to George Brown College Theatre School for stage training. That was interrupted by Spring Awakening, in which she toured as Ilse for more than two years, in 45 cities and over 600 performances.

"It was the school of life for me," says Didomenicantonio, who made an impressive Winnipeg debut last season in Next to Normal at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. "I didn't go back to the school after the tour. It was my coming of age."

She had been preparing for a stage career since the age of seven, sure it was the only life for her. But her plan to break into theatre was suddenly put on hold by Canadian Idol, where her powerful personality charmed the voting viewers. Prior to her first audition she had never sung a pop song.

"I kind of discovered a part of me I didn't know I had," says Didomenicantonio, who has her own folk-pop band called Good Together with fellow Idol contestant Chad Doucette. "I know there is some negativity surrounding some of those talent shows. I had nothing but a wonderful experience."

Monica in Rooms marks her first lead role -- and with only one other actor (Tim Porter) onstage (along with a five-member band) she shoulders more of the responsibility for the musical's success.

"This is exactly the kind of work I want to be doing,' she says. "This show is one of the hardest I've done. If I can do this, I can do anything."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 2, 2013 C9

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Key of Bart: Another Kick At A Paywall

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Great Horned Owl that was caught up in some soccer nets in Shamrock Park in Southdale on November 16th was rehabilitated and returned to the the city park behind Shamrock School and released this afternoon. Sequence of the release. December 4, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Are you in favour of relocating Winnipeg's rail yards and lines?

View Results

Ads by Google