Monday, 16 July 2018

Highs and lows of superstar’s life in the Faust lane

FRAGILE, vulnerable and broken, yet feisty, sparky and singularly talented, Judy Garland in her later years —

FRAGILE, vulnerable and broken, yet feisty, sparky and singularly talented, Judy Garland in her later years — as portrayed by Lisa Maxwell — is a sight to behold.

Heading for her fifth marriage to boyfriend Mickey Deans (Sam Attwater) who is also her manager, life coach and general dogsbody, Judy has returned to London to perform her songs at the behest of piano player Anthony Chapman (Gary Wilmot), who is also an adoring fan.

Throw into the mix a lifetime of battling serious addiction to booze, cigarettes and pills, initiated by the execs in the Hollywood system when she was a young starlet, and you have a real firecracker.

With the stage doubling up as Judy’s hotel suite and the Talk of the Town cabaret spot, we are taken from the behind-the-scenes lows to the onstage highs and sometimes vice versa.

Judy tries to coerce those around her into helping her to take the edge off a little by indulging in her habits, while they in turn coax her back on to the stage.



In the process there is much tragicomedy in a production that is simultanously heart-rending and hilarious — a fabulous moment occurs when Judy has rifled through Anthony’s bag and taken some pills intended for a dog with mange. At one point a pair of red shoes makes an appearance but Judy’s problems don’t magically go away.

We got to enjoy the songs of Judy Garland via the wonderful and authentic singing voice of Lisa Maxwell, who brought us the hits both in the cabaret and the hotel suite, in moments finely attuned to the nuances of the play — from the upbeat Trolley Song to the poignant The Man that Got Away and, of course, Over the Rainbow.

This was a moving tribute to one of the all-time Hollywood greats, showing us the damaged little girl within who still had the tunes — if not the stability and security that had sadly eluded her for much of her life.

Review: Natalie Aldred



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