Tonight, I saw a legend live on stage, the one and only Judy Garland when I attended the new Broadway show "End of the Rainbow" starring Tracie Bennett, Michael Cumpsty, Tom Pelphrey, and Jay Russell. Tracie Bennett was so convincing as "Judy Garland," that when I closed my eyes, especially during the various songs, I seriously thought I was hearing the real Judy Garland sing. Tracie's portrayal of Judy Garland was that incredible! From her vocals to her mannerisms, Tracie has nailed this role down perfectly!!! I don't know how she does this eight times a week, but that is what makes her such a strong performer, the fact that she can give so much so many times a week is amazing. Tracie also brought much heart to the role of "Judy." I found myself truly feeling for her as the show recounts "Judy's" final comeback before her untimely death.
Helping Tracie, were the very enjoyable Michael Cumpsty as "Anthony," "Judy's" pianist, Tom Pelphrey as "Mickey Deans," "Judy's" fiance, and Jay Russell as "BBC Interviewer/Porter/ASM." I have seen Michael in several Broadway productions and once again, he was great as "Anthony." I felt Michael's portrayal of "Anthony" brought a nice point of view from someone who truly loved "Judy" and just wanted the best for her. Tom Pelphrey's performance of "Mickey Deans" was wonderful! I have only seen Tom in one other production, in 2010 in the Off-Broadway play "In God's Hat." It was great to see him back on stage! Tom really conveyed the selfishness of "Mickey." Tom helped show how "Mickey's" love for "Judy" was clearly just so he could capitalize on her success. "Mickey" did whatever it took to get "Judy" on stage singing, even when what he was doing was not in her best interest. Tom found a brilliant way to bring that selfishness alive. Jay's shining moments came when he was on stage as the "BBC Reporter/ASM." Jay got to demonstrate a little bit of his comedic timing, which was very good.
I am not the biggest Judy Garland fan by any means, but I am a fan of "End of the Rainbow!" For someone of my generation, who never got to see Judy live in concert, this is definitely the closet I will ever get to seeing her live. I know enough about Judy Garland to know Tracie Bennett gave a spot on performance! It's unfortunate that a talent as great as Judy, died at such a young age, but at the same time, it's quite amazing how in such a short amount of time, she made a legendary impression on the world. "End of the Rainbow" is in a way, a nice tribute to Judy Garland as it is another outlet for her music, story, and talent to live on, and now it's living on through Tracie Bennett!