End of the Rainbow, currently on at the Birmingham Hippodrome, tells the story of the the final tragic months of Judy Garland. Far from her days as Dorothy, the Garland, played by (Olivier award nominee for best actress for this part) Tracie Bennett, shows us the Garland who couldn’t get through shows without the support of drugs and alchol and who allowed everyone around her to dictate what she should and could do while trying to repay her debts. The tragic story is performed with immense drama but also contaibs hilarious (yet hearbreaking) comedy as Garland tries to make light of moments – such as when it turns out she’s downed a bottle of pills for a dog.
Bennett is supported by Norman Bowman playing her fiance Mickey Deans and Hilton McRae as Anthony her trusted pianist. Bowman shows how difficult Garland was to deal with as Deans deals with managing the global star as both her manager and lover, while McRae shows how Anthony tried to help Garland get out of the stressful situations. A moving scene towards the end shows Anthony trying to get Garland to leave Deans and move with him to Brighton where they could lead a platonic but loving life by the sea. When Deans enters and demands to know what’s happening, Garland simply says they were saying goodbye, leaving Anthony heartbroken knowing that she was sealing her fate. Each actor brings life to these real characters and pull at the appropriate heart strings to make the audience believe they are seeing it actually happening infront of them.
I would love to go on and on about this show – but on this occassion I can’t. I can’t fault it and I can’t sing it’s praises highly enough and I don’t want to ruin anything for you by adding spoilers! I know that’s rare of me, but on this occassion I can’t do it. It is a stunning show. It was nothing like I expected it to be, and although I had heard great things before I had no real expectations – but I was blown away. Bennett really steals the show and her Garland is near perfect. There is a lot of pain but also some genuine laughs.
So yeah, a short, brief review but this show is awesome and if you can see it before it goes to Broadway (of course with Bennett) then do so. It’s got a few more dates on it’s tour so if it comes near you then get some tickets.
End of the Rainbow is at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 22nd October 2011.
It then travels to Aberdeen, Cheltenham, Bath, Sheffield and then Richmond until 26th November.
Information can be found at http://www.endoftherainbowtour.com/tour/