Judy Garland’s story is one of success and personal struggles. End of the Rainbow looks at the time close to the end of her life as she tries to revive her career with six weeks of shows in London.
We join her and her Fiancée Mickey Deans (Sam Attwater) as they arrive in her suite in London. Already there is her devoted pianist Anthony Chapman (Gary Wilmot) ready to help her prepare for the run of shows. Judy (Lisa Maxwell) is in many ways like a spoilt child, she expects to get her own way, when she doesn’t she pouts and throws things. The two men in her life try to look after her but have different motives and very different ideas as to what is best for her.
Lisa Maxwell seems made for the role of Garland, she has the stature and a voice that rings through the rafters. The character is both powerful and needy, manipulating and desperate. Her highs and lows are portrayed beautifully; every song is a reminder of a star lost too soon. While Maxwell’s Garland flies off the handle at the slightest thing, the constant calm and steadying hand come from Gary Wilmot’s Anthony is the perfect counterbalance, an understated but sublime performance. By the end of the show you are unsure if Deans is the good guy or not. Sam Attwater seems to tower over his Judy, which helps when he is manhandling her at the height of her tantrums. His frustration is palpable as he does his best to look after his lover and client, as well as his own interests.
This tragic tale is sprinkled with humour and witty one-liners. The songs bring the story to life and remind you why Judy Garland became a legend. An evening of charismatic performances and emotion.
End of the Rainbow runs at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry until 27 February.
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