Judy Garland once graced the stage of the Birmingham Hippodrome and now over 40 years after her death Tracie Bennett brings "End of the Rainbow" to the theatre giving audiences a dramatic insight into the final events of her life.
Judy starts off as a camp diva, refusing to go on stage and ends up flailing around her London hotel as she is forced into drink and drugs by the life she's led. The emotional ending really hits home. And a few references to The Wizard of Oz are sure to keep the audience chuckling.
Bennett gives a truly magnificent performance as Judy. One moment I found myself chuckling away at her over the top camp performance and the next I was taken aback as she wobbles around stage drunk and dosed up on drugs. It's not surprising that London audiences loved her, and it's not at all a surprise that Bennett will be reprising her role on Broadway. From Judy's voice to her dramatic personality, Tracie Bennett embodies the character.
The show features many of Garland's much loved songs including "The Man That Got Away", "The Trolley Song" and "Over the Rainbow"... Not only are these songs orchestrated beautifully by a small band, but the likeness in the leading lady to Garland's voice is uncanny. Bennet really does capture that deep husky tone that Judy was famous for.
Hilton McRae, Norman Bowman and Robert Maskell give excellent performances to as Anthony (Judy's pianist) Mickey (her fiancée) and various other roles. The relationship between the men in her life and Garland was portrayed beautifully by these fine actors.
I couldn't help but feel emotional as we see the events leading up to the star's tragic overdose after which Bennet performs "Over the Rainbow" to a standing ovation. The shows leading lady definitely gave it her all and fully embodied the Hollywood star.
Finally, a piece of pure class entertainment is getting the recognition it should! This show deserves every success it gets and it's easy to tell that Broadway will lap this production up.
See this show on the rest of the UK tour... It's one not to miss.
For tickets and information visit http://www.birminghamhippodrome.com