Saturday, April 6, 2013

Seeing is Believing: Tracie Bennett as Judy Garland in "End of the Rainbow"

SEEING IS BELIEVING: TRACIE BENNETT AS JUDY GARLAND IN "END OF THE RAINBOW" -- Yes, kids, the old addage is still true: seeing is believing -- and it's never been truer than in the hit London, Broadway and now Los Angeles production of "End of the Rainbow" starring the effervescent and irresistably lovable Tracie Bennett in a role that many would envy, but few could ever pull off with such conviction and aplomb. Currently playing at the Ahmanson Theatre in downtown L.A. through April 21st, 2013 and presented by the Center Theatre Group, this musical play is a must-see! And when we at Studio of Style say that, we mean it!! Peppered with both adult language and sexual situations throughout, this play will jolt you into another realm regarding the tragic end of Garland's roller coaster career and relationships. The play is set in the Ritz Hotel in London in 1968 -- the year before she passed away from drug overdose in a rented house in Chelsea -- and the excellent supporting cast of Erik Heger (as Garland's last fiance/husband Mickey Deans), Michael Cumpsty (as Anthony, Garland's gay pianist and the only one with a level head on him) and Miles Anderson (playing multiple roles) all intertwine in a nonstop whirl of love, compassion, sympathy, sadness and the sense of the inevitable that hangs in the air throughout. Bennett's musical delivery and stance is without comparison, going between breathtaking and stunning -- in fact, one could close their eyes during the play's many numbers and swear that Garland was alive and well and performing right there and then! The spine-tingling delivery of "The Man That Got Away" (by Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin) is so haunting and sung so powerfully by Bennett at the end of Act I that it, alone, is worth the entire price of admission! On top of that are so many more Garland chestnuts that you'll be toe-tapping all night as the play takes you from hotel suite to the Talk of the Town nightclub set in the blink of an eye in a wonderfully seamless production directed by the award-winning Terry Johnson -- and we can't forget that it is all the product of acclaimed playwright Peter Quilter. So, now all you need do is to catch this gem of a show before it ends its run in L.A. and prepare yourself for a magical night of theater, song and Garland, Garland, Garland! It will make a believer out of you!