By Adam Hetrick
15 Jun 2012
|Photo by Carol Rosegg|
Tracie Bennett stars as a tempestuous and triumphant Judy Garland in the music-filled production that began Broadway previews March 19 and opened to strong reviews April 2 at the Belasco Theatre. Bennett earned Olivier and Tony nominations for her dynamic performance.
"Tracie Bennett's balls-to-the-wall performance on the Tony Awards telecast has ignited the box office," a representative for the production told Playbill.com. "That it took place on what would have been Judy Garland's 90th birthday is particularly poignant and fitting."
Bennett delivers such Garland signatures as "The Man That Got Away," "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "The Trolley Song" during the performance. Tony Award-winning La Cage aux Folles director Terry Johnson stages the production that received its U.S. debut at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis prior to Broadway.
Benett is joined on stage by Tony nominee Michael Cumpsty (The Constant Wife, Democracy) as Garland's accompanist, Anthony, with Emmy winner Tom Pelphrey ("Guiding Light") as her husband, Mickey Deans, and Jay Russell (Our Town, The Play What I Wrote) in a variety of roles.
Music director Jeff Saver leads a six-piece on-stage band who back Bennett throughout the evening with arrangements faithful to Garland's originals. An album "Tracie Bennett Sings Judy: Songs from the Broadway Production of End of the Rainbow and Other Garland Classics" is currently available from Masterworks Broadway. (For other show and vocal recordings, visit the Playbill Store.)
According to the producers, "End of the Rainbow is set in December 1968 and Judy Garland is about to make her comeback... again. In a London hotel room preparing for a series of concerts, with both her new young fiancé and her adoring accompanist, Garland struggles to get 'beyond the rainbow' with her signature cocktail of talent, tenacity, and razor-sharp wit. This savagely funny drama offers unique insight into the inner conflict that inspired and consumed one of the most beloved figures in American popular culture. End of the Rainbow features some of Garland’s most memorable songs, performed with the show-stopping gusto for which she will always be remembered."
The production has set and costume design by William Dudley, lighting design by Christopher Akerlind, sound design by Gareth Owen. Chris Egan penned the arrangements. Kate Wilson is voice and dialect consultant.
Bennett previously worked with Johnson in the London revival of La Cage aux Folles. She earned Olivier Awards for her performances as Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray and as Ilona Ritter She Loves Me. Her stage credits also include Les Miserables and Cash On Delivery. Numerous screen appearances include "Vincent," "The Long Firm," "Heroes and Villains," "Next of Kin," "Coronation Street," "Going Out," "Shirley Valentine," "Knights and Emeralds" and "Deep Red Instant Love."
End of the Rainbow is produced on Broadway by Lee Dean, Laurence Myers, Joey Parnes, Ellis Goodman, Chase Mishkin, Shadowcatcher Entertainment/Alhadeff Productions, National Angels U.S. Inc., Charles Diamond/Jenny Topper, Myla Lerner/Barbara & Buddy Freitag, Spring Sirkin/Candy Gold, Hilary Williams, and S.D. Wagner, John Johnson, in association with Guthrie Theater.
For tickets visit Telecharge.com or phone (212) 239-6200. The Belasco Theatre is located at 111 West 44th Street.