JUDY –THE SONG BOOK OF JUDY GARLAND.
Tour to 11 July 2015.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
Review: William Russell 16 June at New Wimbledon Theatre.
A treat mainly for Judy’s fans.
This is an immaculately staged, well-drilled and decently performed revue which takes a glancing look at Judy Garland’s career along the way – nothing unpleasant is mentioned – and includes most of the songs for which she is famous. It is amazing what one can do with some well-displayed back-projections and clever lighting these days, and very little is made to look like a lot.
The three girls doing most of the singing – Louise Dearman, Rachel Stanley and Georgina Hagen – are undeniably stylish, the costumes are pleasing and the songs are out of this world. In addition we have Lorna Luft playing tribute to her mother.
Miss Luft is a belter, a trouper, and she lifts the show when she finally appears towards the end of the first half. She also makes a very impressive job of a couple of her mother’s more famous numbers, notably ‘The Man That Got Away’ and ‘Swanee’.
But truth to tell, the trouble with shows like this which include clips of the raison d’être is that the clips reveal everyone on stage is comparatively second-rate. Judy was a star, a one-off voice, a unique personality.
Mostly the clips come from trailers, but there are some extended one from her television shows and at the end inevitably we go over that wretched rainbow once again. The other problem with the clips is that they show her tragic decline.
Garland, a victim of the Hollywood studio system, died when she was only 47. But that is all glossed over shamelessly –read the nauseatingly saccharine life by Gary Horrocks in the programme.
The choreography is ghastly, a tap-dance routine apart, requiring the five male dancers to do peculiar things for no good reason. Since Arlene Phillips is creative director one wonders what she has been up to.
All that said, the show is what it says on the can, finding an audience which rises spontaneously to their feet at the end, and has in Ms Luft a lady who delivers the vocal goods. Even if it his her fate to be the Ed to her sister Liza’s David.
Cast: Lorna Luft, Louise Dearman, Ray Quinn, Rachel Stanley, Darren Bennett, Georgina Hagen, Alexander Evans, Jeff Smyth, Becky O’Brien.
The Boy Friends: Jacob Holme, Alec Mann, Sam Stanley, Luke Field-Wright, Pip Hersee, Andrew Hamshire.
Creative Director: Arlene Phillips.
Director: Christopher Manoe.
Designer/Video: Colin Rozee.
Lighting: Colin Wood.
Sound: Desmond Lambert.
Musical Director: Colin Freeman.
Choreographer: Richard Row.
Tap Choreographer: Douglas Mills.