Monday, April 8, 2013

END OF THE RAINBOW... at The Ahmanson, Los Angeles

Here is a tribute/expose/denigration of Judy Garland, where she acts like a cat in heat and talks like a truck driver. Actress Tracie Bennett gives a bravura performance, but whether you for one second buy the premise that she is Judy Garland – yeah, the hard-drinking, drug dependent, brilliant performer with a voice to melt your heart and your eardrums – I beg to differ.
This is not to say Bennett's impersonation is not brilliant theater – you'll never be bored, even if not persuaded - but whatever Garland's demons were like, and how wild and obnoxious her reported behavior, this show doesn't ring true. Also, when Bennett sings, her voice is high and strong and, even though she found the vocal vibrato that rings in the ear like Garland, the throaty, pain-filled husk was missing. She does not come close to capturing the heartbreaking poignancy of Garland's triumphs on stage. Garland radiated fragility, Bennett's gal is as hard as nails.
Maybe my memory goes back further than most, but all through Rainbow another image kept obscuring this crude, vulgar, physical woman onstage. It struck me as I left the Ahmanson. Aha! This could be about Tallulah Bankhead – that's her language we heard – wild daughter of a senator - famous for her foul mouth – always making lewd jokes about "let's f***!" – and yes, except for the singing – it was Tallulah!
           As reviewed for 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your candid and brilliantly insightful review. I must agree with your critique but you have a gift for memorializing each theatrical event that I lack. I agree agree agree but don't think I could ever communicate such an intelligent, succinct review in less than a few thousand words. Conan