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Royalty Theatre, Tue 4 Jun.
What a way to start this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival with State Theatre Company’s End Of The Rainbow; a beautifully-told story about the demise of the ageing but iconic July Garland. Beautifully written by Peter Quilter and directed by Elena Carapetis, this performance has some wonderfully witty repartee to balance the demanding and insecure antics of Garland as she performs her last string of shows in London’s West End.
Helen Dallimore is outstanding in the role of Judy, showing her fragility dependency, humour and sheer star power. She is so convincing in the role it is difficult to imagine anyone else playing the part. With ten of Garland’s songs to be sung by Dallimore throughout the play this is a demanding role but she doesn’t miss a beat – her accent, the timbre in her voice, her ability to belt out a tune are all impressive. Helen Dallimore does Garland’s legacy as a musician proud.
Stephen Sheehan, as one of Garland’s long-time pianists, also delivers a very impressive performance, and gets to convey some of the play’s best one-liners with calm and impeccable timing – a balance to some of Judy’s petulant excesses. Nic English is convincing as Judy’s smitten but long-suffering younger fiancé. Eddie Morrison, as well as playing upright bass in the band, adds some humour in a number of smaller roles, but particularly as a confused BBC announcer.
The fabulous backing band, led by Carol Young, is visible onstage during musical numbers, but hidden behind a curtain when the action is taking place. Arrangements by Andrew McNaughton showcase some very tasty playing by Warren Heading (trumpet), Tom Pulford (sax and clarinet), Thomas Voss (trombone), Steve Todd (drums), and Eddie Morrison on bass.
The play is set in a small hotel room – she is scathing about how small it is – but there is no attempt to change the scenery when the action moves to the concert hall. No time is wasted moving furniture, and the rhythm of the play is not interrupted.
Both a play and a concert of some of Judy Garland’s best songs with an authentic 1960s cabaret sensibility, this is an inspired choice to include in the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. End Of The Rainbow is a moving and absorbing portrayal of Judy Garland and the personal toll on a life in the public spotlight. Entertainment with a capital ‘E’!
End Of The Rainbow continues at Royalty Theatre, Angus St, at various times, until Sat 22 Jun.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Images courtesy of Chris Herzfeld