- The Milwaukee Rep’s production of Peter Quilter’s “End
of the Rainbow” captures the turbulence, the drama, the
anguish and the power of Judy Garland’s career.
her being pushed into show biz at the age of 2 by an ambitious
mother, strictly controlled by MGM for years, having five
failed marriages and many short-lived affairs, severe
addictions to alcohol, barbiturates and amphetamines and being
prone to depression and anxiety, she had an incredibly
successful career as a singer and actor.
probably lived many lives in her one short one, dying from an
accidental barbiturate overdose at the age of 47.
is heart-wrenching and thrilling to watch Hollis Resnik
channel the spirit and talent of this small, incredibly
talented woman with the big voice and the unique styling. The
play covers the last few months of her life as she is
struggling to complete a series of concerts in London. She has
just hooked up with a young disc jockey named Mickey Deans,
whom she would later marry. Both he, along with an old
friend-accompanist Anthony, try to keep Judy on track to
complete her gig. It is evident that both men are concerned
about her failing health and mounting debts, but Anthony’s
love is less self-serving than Mickey’s.
J. Cox gives a very touching performance as Anthony, her gay
friend, and Nicholas Harazin’s portrayal as Mickey provides
a sharp contrast to Anthony’s purer devotion. We grow to
like Anthony a lot more than her latest ill-chosen mate
has captured Garland’s body language and vocal stylings to a
T. So much of our individuality comes through in our gestures,
movements and facial expressions, and Resnik must have spent
many hours studying Garland to be able to so strikingly
fashion this role. It is absolutely stunning to witness
Garland’s return through this woman’s daunting talent.
the many songs Resnik renders, the most moving is “The Man
That Got Away” and the most creative stylistically is
“Come Rain or Come Shine.” Her final number, “Somewhere
Over the Rainbow,” is a fitting close to a very beautiful
but sad story.
set (Dan Conway), the musical direction (Dan Kazemi), the
costuming (Holly Payne) all create an authentic span of time
lighting effects (Ryan Bertelson) enhance the mood and leave
an audience stunned into silence before the rousing standing
by Mark Clements, it’s a must-see if you like Judy Garland,
and millions of fans still do.
of the Rainbow” runs through Feb. 9 at the Quadracci
Powerhouse, 108 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. For show times and
tickets, call 414-224-9490 or visit their website at www.MilwaukeeRep.com