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End of the Rainbow @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Published by: Yvonne Delahaye on 4th Mar 2016 | View all blogs by Yvonne Delahaye

Lisa Maxwell in End of The Rainbow

Image provided by The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

When you’re a theatre reviewer you watch a variety of shows, but very occasionally you see a show that totally blows you away and this is a show and a half!  Lisa Maxwell is magnificent as the deeply flawed Judy Garland and she gives a performance that is fearless, animalistic and completely authentic.  She totally inhabits Judy, with all her mannerisms and nuances perfectly portrayed and her powerful voice emulates all the intonations and phrasing flawlessly.  Close your eyes and you could not tell the difference, but even with your eyes open you cannot see Lisa Maxwell, all you see is Judy and that is one of the greatest achievements any actor could hope for.

Don’t expect this to be a happy ‘Over the Rainbow’ show, as this is a gritty and realistic portrayal of Judy in 1968, set to make an explosive comeback in London, but fuelled by her destructive addictions.  As a young star in the 1930s, MGM plied her with drugs to keep the frenetic filming schedule on track.  Thus began a lifelong addiction, that created psychological breakdowns and led to her eventual death a few months after this show is set.  Here we see a Judy about to marry her younger fiancé (who would be her 5th husband), who tries desperately to get her off the drink and drugs, but he’s fighting a losing battle as her dependency is so ingrained. 

A hit in the West End and on Broadway, End of the Rainbow features some of Garland’s most memorable songs The Man That Got Away, Come Rain Or Come Shine, The Trolley Song and of course Somewhere Over The Rainbow. There is a lot of humour with Garland’s legendary tenacity and razor-sharp wit, but if you’re offended by bad language, then beware as she had a very potty mouth!

Lisa Maxwell IS Judy Garland. Lisa is an actress and television presenter, best known for her role as Samantha Nixon in ITV’s The Bill from 2002 and 2009, and as a panelist on ITV’s Loose Women from 2009 – 2014. Other television credits include EastEnders, The Russ Abbot Show and The Lisa Maxwell Show.

Sam Attwater is also totally believable as Mickey Deans and gives a strong performance, as he tries to take control of the relationship and steer Judy in the right direction. Sam made his TV acting debut in 2009, playing Ricky in Hollyoaks. The following year he joined EastEnders and its online spinoff EastEnders: E20, as Leon Small. Stage credits include Brad in the 40th Anniversary tour of The Rocky Horror Show, Dreamboats and Petticoats in the West End, and the 2014 UK Tour of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Sam won the sixth series of ITV’s Dancing on Ice in 2011, and returned for the 'All Stars' series in 2014.

Adding even more drama to the mix, is Judy’s relationship with gay pianist Anthony Chapman, who is totally in love with her. This creates huge friction between him and Mickey, forming a dynamic triangle that intensifies the tragedy. Beautifully played by Gary Wilmot as Anthony, it was good to see him in a straight acting role. Gary’s musical theatre stardom began when he played Bill Snibson in the hit production of Me and My Girl at the Adelphi Theatre. His many theatre credits include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (West End and Tour), Oklahoma! (UK Tour), The Pajama Game (Shaftesbury Theatre), The Invisible Man (Menier Chocolate Factory), Chicago (UK Tour), Half a Sixpence (UK Tour), HMS Pinafore and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (London Palladium), Carmen Jones (Old Vic) and Copacabana (World Premiere, Prince of Wales Theatre).

End of the Rainbow first premiered at the Sydney Opera House in 2005, before playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2006. It returned to the UK in 2010 in a new production at Northampton Royal & Derngate, transferring to the West End the same year where it ran for 6 months and received four Olivier Award nominations. A Broadway run followed in 2012, where it received three Tony Award nominations. It is written by Peter Quilter, whose plays have been presented in over 40 countries around the world and translated into 30 languages. For End of the Rainbow, Peter received an Olivier Award nomination for Best New Play.


Credit must also be given to Director Daniel Buckroyd, for bringing out the very best in all the actors, keeping us hooked throughout. Daniel has been Artistic Director of the Mercury Theatre, Colchester since July 2012, where credits include Aladdin, Noises Off, Cinderella, Macbeth, Betty Blue Eyes, The Opinion Makers, The Butterfly Lion, The History Boys, The Hired Man and Michael Morpurgo’s Friend Or Foe. It is designed by David Shields.


It’s so sad to see how such talented people can be destroyed by drugs and drink and the parallels between Judy and Amy Winehouse are stark.  This show is one of the best pieces of theatre I’ve seen in a long time, with incredible performances all round and I’d recommend anyone to get off the sofa and fight to see it!


Performances:                 Thu 3 – Sat 5 Mar

                                       Thu – Sat eves 7.30pm, Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Tickets:                            From £15 (£16.90 when booked online or over the phone)

Box Office:                        0844 871 7607 (Bkg fee. Calls 7p per min plus phone company’s access charge)

Groups Hotline:               0844 871 7614

Access Booking:               0844 871 7677 (Bkg fee)

Online Booking:      (Bkg fee)

Facebook:                        Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Twitter:                            @thewaterside1


For tour dates, visit

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye





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