From Judy Garland to Barbra Streisand, Patsy Cline to Edith Piaf and others, Bernadette takes on a persona to tell an anecdote or two, perform a small selection of the songs that made them famous, before shifting to the next. It was a wonderful performance, well-told, and the audience were not shy with their appreciation.
Bernadette returns again and again to the persona of Judy Garland. It’s an idealised Judy, completely removed from the figure whose life – from the traumatic days filming and promoting The Wizard of Oz until her far too-young death at the age of 47 – had no shortage of pain and trouble.
Her past had a long tail and while concentrating solely on the hardships Judy endured would upset the balance of the show, a touch of honesty among the romanticism wouldn’t have made Bernadette’s portrayal any less of a celebration.
There’s footage online from 1955, of an older Judy performing Somewhere over the Rainbow. It’s incredibly moving, the weight of her emotional struggles coming through in every trembled note. Near the end of The Show Goes On, however, we get an unsurprising, flawless rendition.
To be sure, it’s beautiful to listen to, as are every number Bernadette visits. But, there’s bravery in a willingness to be vulnerable and a value in showing these larger-than-life figures to be a little more human.
Bernadette Robinson: The Show Goes On
Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Performance: Tuesday 20 February 2018 – 7.00pm
Season continues to 11 March 2018
Information and Bookings: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au
Image: Bernadette Robinson stars in The Show Goes On – photo by Bob King
Review: David Collins