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END OF THE RAINBOW - THE KING'S, GLASGOW

Published by: Mark Ridyard on 27th Apr 2016 | View all blogs by Mark Ridyard

 

End Of The Rainbow
PHOTO: PAMELA RAITH PHOTOGRAPHY

“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true…”

Probably the most famous words ever sung on film will forever belong to the legendary Judy Garland, from the 1939 movie The Wizard Of Oz. However, despite her huge fame and star-status, her life itself has all the characteristics of one of the greatest stories ever told. Last night, at The Kings Theatre in Glasgow, End Of The Rainbow attempted to tell at least some of that story.

Concentrating on Garland’s five-week-run of shows at The Talk Of The Town in London, shortly before her death, the show dramatises her relationship with her fiancé, Mickey Deans, and her pianist friend Anthony. Some of Garland’s biographers, such as Gerald Clark and David Shipman, have theorised about the dynamics of Garland and Dean’s relationship, and End Of The Rainbow explores their complex bond and inner demons.

The audience filing into the auditorium were greeted with an open curtain - the inside of a large hotel suite. As it turned out, this room was the main setting for most of the action, with scenes set within the nightclub taking place with most of the walls and furniture still in situ. This may sound a little jarring at first, but was in-keeping with the production’s overall feel.

A glance at the programme revealed a very small cast – just three main performers supported by one other. It was obvious that strong stage presence, coupled with polished acting, would be required from each of them, and it’s here that the production really came to life.

In the lead role of Judy Garland was Lisa Maxwell – star of No Limits, The Lisa Maxwell Show, The Bill and Loose Women – and possibly not everyone’s first thought when it comes to casting the role. However, any reservations the audience may have had were soon swept away by both Maxwell’s credibility when acting as Garland, but also when singing as Garland.

Rattling-off numbers such as Come Rain Or Come Shine, The Trolley Song from Meet Me In St Louis and, of course, Over The Rainbow, Maxwell’s singing was a wonderful attempt at capturing the voice of an aging, troubled star, but one who could still hold an audience spellbound as they reminisce about times-gone-by.

Playing Mickey Deans was Sam Attwater, known for his appearances in Eastenders and Dancing On Ice, and he provided a well-rounded, constantly conflicted character who was just desperate to get Garland to the end of her singing engagement. Lastly, and by no means least, the stalwart Gary Wilmot (So You Want To Be Top, Me And My Girl, Copacabana) gave a loveable performance as the pianist Antony who, over the course of the story, tried to persuade Judy to turn her back on her fame completely.

With some surprisingly strong language in places, the production highlighted the challenges faced not only by Garland but by those people closest to her who thought they knew how to protect her. In particular, the changes in those who loved her, but the lack of deep-rooted change in Garland herself, provided moments of comedy and tragedy in equal measure.

End Of The Rainbow was a sympathetic look at a small but pivotal time in the life of one of America’s greatest ever stars and, last night, that star shine a little brighter on a chilly April evening in Glasgow.
END OF THE RAINBOW
at The Kings Theatre, Glasgow
Tuesday 26th – Saturday 30th April 2016
Click here to buy tickets 

Comments

1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 1 year ago
    Thanks, Mark. A really insightful review.
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