Thursday, July 5, 2012

Judy At The Palace of St. George: Kathy St George IS Judy Garland

Dear Miss Garland at the Stoneham Theatre, (781) 279-2200,  till July 22 (for tickets, click here).
Kathy St. George in DEAR MISS GARLAND

By the time Kathy St George, implores us, as Judy Garland, to forget our troubles and, "come on! Get happy!", I did a quick reality check.  Troubles, I got plenty, but forget them? I already did.
DEAR MISS GARLAND is the new and improved version of a show Kathy St George and Scott Edmiston created as Kathy's love letter to Judy Garland.
The first act covers the history of Kathy and Judy, growing up as a fan.  Like many of us, Kathy first got to know Judy Garland from the annual network television broadcast (when the only networks were ABC, CBS, NBC and, later, PBS) of The Wizard of Oz.  (The rest of you had videotapes and discs to view anytime you wanted to: its how my niece, at 4, was able to recite the segment "The house began to pitch ...").  She followed Judy's career by seeing all of her films, and as a performer she was drawn to her material. Together with director Scott Edmiston, St. George has crafted a show that has a very intimate first act (which could just as easily play in a cabaret room), which deals personally with Kathy's connections to Judy Garland, with songs and stories, sometimes giving a glimpse of Judy's character in those anecdotes and songs.  But mostly it's Kathy, relating to us her love and passion for Judy and her material. As much as it is the cliche of all cliches, there's a segment that closes Act One that alone is "worth the price of admission", and I laughed throughout her whimsical, virtuosic performance.  It's a segment that everyone relates to, and ties the first act together well.
Act Two is mostly a recreation of some of the song performances captured on the recording JUDY AT CARNEGIE HALL.  St George's music director/pianist/accompanist Jim Rice, who was the sole musician for Act One, is joined by others to create a 7 piece orchestra to provide a bigger sound for the second act.  Kathy,in the unmistakable iconic wardrobe pieces that help her define her characterization, hits one song after another out of the park, with an easy, dead on impersonation of Garland's energy, emotion and drive.  She doesn't use any artificial makeup enhancements to look like Judy.  She plays the gestures, and finds the emotion in those gestures.    This is the chance to see a singer/actress at the top of her form in material she was made for.   I've only seen Tracy Bennett (the British actress playing Judy Garland on Broadway in "End of the Rainbow") in a segment on the 2012 Tony Awards broadcast, but based on the little I saw, I think Kathy's Judy could go up against hers and come out on top.  
As an encore, Kathy comes out wrapped in an oversized faux black mink, and says "What becomes a legend most?", which is the line from a series of ads for a fur line called Blackglama, featuring gorgeous icons, (Sophia Loren, Judy Garland, Diana Ross, Bette Davis, Ann Margret, Joan Rivers, Janet Jackson, and even Tommy Tune, etc.), dressed in Blackglama mink.
In this show, it's Kathy who becomes a legend most!

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