It’s always fraught with danger presenting a show about an icon such as Judy Garland. There is always a question mark as to whether you can do her story justice, both in story line and the authenticity of the players.
Peter Quilter succeeded in writing a sometimes raw, sometimes funny and sometimes very sad script to this show which follows the child protege’s downward spiral into drug and alcohol dependency, yet another relationship breakdown, and finally her untimely overdose suicide. The script is fast-moving, clever and well thought out.
Elena Carapetis displayed great skill in directing this small ensemble cast in what is her first main stage play for State Theatre Company. The ensemble cast featured three main players.
Stephen Sheehan plays the role of Anthony Chapman who was Judy’s pianist, confidante and on occasions, lifesaver. Steven’s portrayal of his character was genuine and heartfelt as he struggled to support the sometimes unsupportable Garland, when alcohol and illicit substances took over her life.
Nic English plays Judy’s Fiance, Mickey Deans. Nic’s character was very convincing as he also desperately tries to keep Judy off the hard stuff, in order for her to be able to keep some semblance of a career. The chemistry was obvious between his and Garland’s character as they shared a very wordy script. The pace was punchy and the comedy interactions were very funny.
The role of Judy was played by Helen Dallimore. Helen is a veteran of stage and screen and her portrayal of Ms Garland was exquisite. She has her mannerisms and accent down to a tee. Her delivery of both the dramatic and comedy lines in the show was faultless.
The audience was treated to many classic Garland songs: The Man That Got Away, Over the Rainbow, I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, The Trolley Song and Just in Time. Helen’s vocal accuracy to Garland is uncanny. She was supported by a very good but small band under the expert musical direction of Adelaide local Carol Young.
The play has been produced in more than 20 countries, including hit seasons in London’s West End and Broadway. It did however make its debut in 2005 in the Sydney Opera House. If you are a Garland devotee, you will love this show. And if you are not, you will still be entertained by the quality of this show.
End of the Rainbow
Royalty Theatre, 65 Angus Street, Adelaide
Season continues to 22 June 2019
Information and Bookings: www.statetheatrecompany.com.au
Image: Helen Dallimore stars as Judy Garland accompanied by Stephen Sheehan on piano in End of the Rainbow – photo by Chris Herzfeld
Review: Rick Williams – courtesy of All About Entertainment