End Of The Rainbow

Chrissy ON Apr 09, 2013 AT 10:15 am

by Chrissy Iley

Tracie Bennett as Judy Garland

Tracie Bennett as Judy Garland

People are often surprised to learn it takes a lot to get me to the theatre. In fact I’m quite phobic about it for too many reasons to go into at this moment. But let’s just say I’m usually disappointed by any attempt made to overcome my phobia.

So even though Tracie Bennett has had worldwide rave reviews I didn’t necessarily believe them. It’s part play, part musical. It is set in London in 1968 where Judy Garland was trying to make what would turn out to be her final comeback. She was 46. A year and a half later she would be found dead, a victim of what was later described as ‘an incautious self overdose.’

Peter Quilter’s play is gorgeously written, funny, poignant, clever, sad. But it’s Bennett’s performance that makes it mesmerising.

Because I am not a luvvie I didn’t know much of Bennett’s work. I was recommended the show by a mutual friend – musical director Nigel Wright.

He said that he felt she missed out on Tonys and Oliviers because it was both a play and a musical and the voters for plays had other plays that were more play-like and the voters for musicals had other musicals that had more music.

I can’t understand why End of the Rainbow didn’t win best performance in a play and best performance in a musical because Tracie Bennett had my jaw open, my breath taken, my heart pounding.

I’ve never met Judy Garland but I’ve met Lisa Minnelli who both consciously and unconsciously does a good impersonation of her mother. Bennett’s Judy is more real. But given that Judy and Lisa were similar creatures embroiled in insecurity and addiction, one scene was particularly interesting to watch.

It’s where Judy’s doing a radio interview, forgets what question she’s answering and keeps calling the interviewer the wrong name. This happened when I interviewed Lisa – she called me Sally and kept saying ‘Oh, what was the question again?’ It’s interesting and painful that such addictions are inherent and inherited.

I’ve yet to interview Tracie so I’ve no idea what parallels there are to Tracie’s own life or what is inside of her that connected so viscerally.

Tracie Bennett is a British actress, born in Lancashire, and was in soap opera Coronation Street playing Sharon Gaskell, the Fairclough’s foster daughter. She first took the role of Sharon in the eighties and reprised it in 1999. She has recently joined the cast of Scott and Bailey playing another Sharon, the estranged mother of DC Bailey. I have to confess I’ve never seen Scott and Bailey and I can’t imagine her as anyone else but Judy. I would like to start a small campaign for End of the Rainbow the movie. Mesmerising .

End of the Rainbow is currently showing at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles.

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