A new play about the last months of screen and music legend Judy Garland has received rave reviews in the West End
Award-winning actress Tracie Bennett stars as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow, which has transferred to London following a successful run at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton earlier this year.
The show opened at the Trafalgar Studios on Monday, directed by Terry Johnson, who directed Bennett in La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre and recently directed a new production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at the Vaudeville.
Peter Quilter’s touching play is set in London in 1968 and features some of Garland’s most memorable songs including The Man That Got Away, Come Rain or Come Shine, The Trolley Song and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Tracie Bennett stars alongside Hilton McRae as Anthony, Garland’s devoted pianist and musical director and Stephen Hagan as soon-to-be husband number five Mickey Deanes.
Tracie Bennett gives a career-defining performance in the show, and is tipped to win a number of high profile awards with her sensitive and powerful portrayal of Garland, in a role that showcases her acting and singing ability with an uncanny physical and vocal resemblance to the star.
Charles Spencer in the Telegraph and Libby Purves in the Times awarded the show five stars, with Spencer saying that, “there are moments in the theatre when you lean forward in your seat with shivers racing down the spine, and realise there is nowhere on God’s earth you’d rather be. End of the Rainbow is one such occasion”. Henry Hitchings gave it four stars in the Evening Standard, praising Bennett’s performance as, “courageous — raw, emotional and astonishingly energetic. It’s much more than a skilful impersonation; it feels as if she has assimilated the essence of Garland’s personality”. Paul Vale in the stage hailed Terry Johnson’s direction as “practically flawless”.