A long time to be gallivanting from party to party and dinner to dinner and packed room to packed room. It was both insanely fun and insanely exhausting at the same time. So much happened at #BlogHer12 that, instead of boring you with one monster post, I’ve decided to break it up into manageable pieces (fully realizing that I am not writing about my Kenyan Safari Trip, or anything truly deserving of a multi-part post).
The first highlight of my Manhattan jaunt was a Broadway show! It’s been way too long since I’ve gotten my musical theatre fix. I used to be a theatre junkie and didn’t go a few months without seeing a production. These days, though, I’m caught up in the Mom Matrix and my typical live entertainment experiences include shows like Moona Luna (saw them last week).
So, when Holly at Mama Drama offered me a ticket to check out a show while in town, I leapt at the chance. I decided to see End of the Rainbow, which focuses on the life of Judy Garland in the months leading up to her death in 1969.
It’s December 1968 and Judy Garland is poised to make a triumphant comeback… again. The drama unfolds in a London hotel room as she prepares for a series of concerts at the famed Talk of the Town nightclub. Alongside her young fiancé and trusted pianist, Garland—with her signature cocktail of talent, tenacity and razor-sharp wit—takes on her most challenging role ever: herself.
The entire cast was excellent, but Tracie Bennett was simply mind-blowing as Judy Garland. I can see why the reviews sing her praises – her performance was captivating. I had heard some stories here and there about Judy Garland struggling with drugs and alcohol but to see the extent of it, and to get a glimpse into her painful lifestyle, was eye-opening.
What was most unexpected for me was that, apparently, Judy Garland was FUNNY! I mean hysterical; quick-witted, sarcastic and sharp-tongued. Bennett had the audience laughing from beginning to end, even when we knew the situation at hand was, in reality, tragic.
It always amazes me how playwrights and directors can tell a complicated story in just 2 hours, and with few characters, and 1 or 2 backdrops. This show was no different: the majority of the storyline took place in Garland’s hotel room at a Ritz-Carlton in London – where she hid and downed pills and alternated between drinks of soda water and alcohol; the remainder of the scenes happened either at the venue where her Talk of the Town shows took place – backstage and on stage – or at the local radio station where she was interviewed (in an obviously altered state).
Bennett’s singing voice — raspy, powerful and heartfelt – was perfect and, though I only “knew” Judy Garland as “Dorothy,” I have to believe that her performance portraying Garland was spot on. The show had one, 15-minute intermission and lasted about 2 hours. What moved me the most was Garland’s desperate need to be loved – even as a famous, successful artist…and how her fifth fiance started out with dreams of helping her to kick her demons, but then selfishly serves as her enabler (or worse) and likely plays a part in her early demise. I found myself rooting for her, wanting her obvious calls for help to be answered, all while laughing to the point of tears.
The last show runs on August 19th – if you are looking for a slam-dunk at the theatre, see this show while you can.