July 11, 2007

Beyond the Rainbow

Judy Garland is an iconic figure. She's revered as one of the most talented performers of all time. Countless scores of people have seen and cherished her performances in films like 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'A Star is Born.' But for anyone curious about what lay behind the Garland's beautiful music 'Beyond the Rainbow' is a must see. 

Actors Theatre of Indiana's latest show 'Beyond the Rainbow' recreates Judy Garland's famous 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall. The production includes three separate Judys, the youngest played by Kennedy Martin, the 38-year-old Garland singing at Carnegie, and a third who plays Garland from her teens through her early 30s. Each of the three actresses help shape the whole picture of Garland's troubled life.

Jody Briskey plays the eldest Garland. Briskey originated the role for 'Beyond the Rainbow' in 2005 and has performed it at many venues in the U.S. Briskey nails each wobbly pitch in Garland well-known style, mimicking the mannerisms of Garland in her later days. She seems to channel Garland's tremulous voice as she belts out famous songs like 'Stormy Weather' and 'Swanee.'

The show revolves around the concert, but Garland's haunting memories of her life unfold on the stage while Briskey performs. The oldest Garland provides the soundtrack to her own life as she sees the painful steps that brought her to that famous Carnegie performance. Her childhood and rise to fame were built upon the unstable foundation of pressure, pills and the constant criticism of the public's eye.

Katy Gentry does an amazing job as she takes on the role of the middle Garland, covering around 20s years of the performers' life. Along with outstanding vocals during each song, Gentry manages to capture Garland's tone of voice and vulnerability. Gentry begins as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed novice and slowly becomes into a jaded addict overcome with loneliness and the pressure of pleasing everyone. Yet throughout the transformation Gentry never loses the sweet optimism and eternal trust that Garland seemed to always have.

The cast of supporting characters each took on several roles. The played the parents, spouses, friends and critics in Garland's life. Their collective talent sets the stage for all three Garlands to shine.

Garland's legacy will never be forgotten. Even at her most troubled moments she was still undeniably talented. She exuded a quality that drew people to her and it's that same quality that will attract audiences to this gem of a show. Whether you want to know more about Garland or you just want to enjoy a concert of her signature songs, 'Beyond the Rainbow' shouldn't be missed.