Saturday August 19th 2017

“End Of The Rainbow”

er Leave it to Michael Weber to bring the Chicago Premiere of Peter Quilter’s “End Of The Rainbow” to the intimacy of Porchlight Music Theatre. WOW! A few years back, I had the privilege of viewing a production of this musical tale depicting the comeback of Judy Garland in 1968. I saw the Milwaukee production starring Chicago favorite Hollis Resnik as Ms Garland. She was wonderful and in fact, I loved the show so much, I went back to see it a second time, on Superbowl Sunday with Janie and one of her friends. I loved it even more  the second time.

Now, here I am, seeing the show once more, but with some differences. First of all, it is in the Pro theatre of Stage 773 on Belmont, a much smaller and far more intimate space for story-telling. Secondly, it is directed by Michael Weber, who has a flair for the dramatic and a solid understanding of the musical theater. Add to the mix, Jon Steinhagen ( a Chicago favorite) as the Musical Director, who also plays Anthony Chapman, Ms. Garland’s longtime pianist and the amazing Angela Ingersoll bringing Judy Garland to life. When I say Amazing, I mean AMAZING!!! She looks like her (circa 1968), she sounds like her, and I would have to say almost made me feel that I had gone back in time and was a fly on the wall of the London hotel where Ms. Garland stayed. WOW! and double Wow!

judy3

The story is simple and sweet. It is December of 1968 and having found a new “boy-toy” /fiancé/manager, Mickey Deans (deftly handled by Kyle Hatley), Ms Garland is prepared to make a comeback. She is in deep financial trouble and it is Mickey’s hope that this can help resolve the situation. He has managed to keep her off booze and drugs, but for how long. This show is filled with many of Garland’s “signature” songs, and I must tell you that I had chills up my spine as Ingersoll performed them. This story, part truth and part fiction depicts the inner-conflict that Ms. Garland had, trying to please her audience, her friends and herself.

The live musicians on stage, often behind the set, are highly talented and under Steinhagen’s direction (he is at the keyboards), they shine; Lindsay Williams (drums), Gregory Strauss (trumpet), Cara Hartz (reeds), Dan Kristan (bass) and Joe Pascarello (trombone)- they are terrific. The set by Christopher Rhoton brings us to a suite in a London Hotel, but when the side walls slide out, we are in the theater for Ms. Garland’s show. When we get to the final number, “Over The Rainbow”, one can see the tears fall down her cheek and don’t be surprised to find that you are seeing her tears, through yours! Yes, I suggest a few tissues in your pocket or purse. You will need them.

Here’s to a strong cast (add Felipe Jorge, who takes on several smaller (but important)roles, solid direction, a dynamite set for a smaller theater, a wonderful orchestra (small in numbers, but robust in sound), wonderful costumes (Bill Morey),solid lighting (Shelley Strasser Holland), perfect sound (Robert Hornbostel) and the final items, props by Mealah Heidenreich and projections by Ross Hoppe. If you are a Garland fan, I suggest you find a way to see this masterpiece. I am thinking this will be a “Jeff Award” nominee (several) and probably will garner some 2016 Awards, for sure. ”

“End Of The Rainbow” will continue at Stage 773 located at 1225 West Belmont Avenue through December 9th* (I hope they can extend it) with performances as follows:

judyThursdays  7:30 p.m.  (1:30 p.m. added matinée on 11/17)

Fridays  8:00 p.m.  (Black Friday 11/25 added 4 p.m.)

Saturdays  4 and 8 p.m.

Sundays  2 p.m.

They have already added, Tuesday, December 6th  7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 7th  1:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 8th  1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Friday December 9th  8 p.m.* added  NO SHOWS  Thursday, 11/10 and 11/24 Thanksgiving.

Tickets range from $45-$51 ( a bargain for a show of this quality) and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 773-777-9884 or online at www.PorchlightMusicTheatre.org

Street parking is available, some free and some metered. Valet parking is available and if you dine at Cooper’s, they do have available parking (as well as a tasty menu). To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “End Of The Rainbow”.stage773logo

 

Special note. I just found out that Ms Ingersoll will be doing a one woman performance called “12 Dames of Christmas” on Saturday. December 10th at ECC Arts Center’s Blizzard Theatre in Elgin. In this show, she does Garland (but of course) as well as Brenda Lee, Eartha Kitt, Julie Andrews, Marilyn Monroe and many more. This sounds like a show I do not want to miss, and you can reserve your spot at http://www.tickets.elgin.eduor by calling 847-622-0300. I think the price is $30 and for $29 more, you can enjoy dinner as well. ENJOY! ( I plan to)

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