Tag Archives: Lorna Luft

REVIEW: Judy – The Songbook of Judy Garland – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

An artist who means so much to so many: both tragic victim of the studio star system and ultimate Hollywood legend, the ever-enduring appeal of Judy Garland is enough to ensure a full house wherever her name appears.

Judy – The Songbook of Judy Garland is the only production officially sanctioned by the Garland estate and features youngest daughter Lorna Luft accompanied on this whistle-stop journey through the musical career of her mother by West End leading lady Louise Dearman, X-Factor, Brookside and Dancing on Ice alumni Ray Quinn, an array of seasoned musical theatre veterans and backing dancers The Boyfriends.

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The show format is a familiar one, live performances are interspersed with video snippets of Garland’s most famous movies and a few unseen interview clips of the star, looking it must be said, fragile and vulnerable, as well as some personal anecdotes from Luft about life with her famous parent. These personal reminiscences are a welcome touch and provide a tangible link from audience to superstar, that said, it would have been nice to utilise this very real connection and allow Luft more show time talking rather than singing songs which only her mother can truly give justice to.

There is a quality which permeates the whole production, from the set design of Colin Rozée (a Hollywood studio stage) with its black, red and white motif that carries through to the costume design, to the first class cast. Dearman and Quinn are the standouts in a universally talented line-up. Dearman’s “Stormy Weather” is a showstopper and Quinn surprises and delights, most notably in his duet with Darren Bennett, “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, being both fleet of foot and in extremely fine voice. Bennett, it must be said is a class act, singing and dancing beautifully throughout. Dearman and Luft also memorably recreate the now famous 1962 duet between Garland and a then unknown Barbra Streisand.

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The musical arrangements are excellent as is the choreography and there are some nice touches in the projections especially in “The Trolley Song” where background and onstage action merge beautifully and to great effect. For all its quality there are a few quibbles though: a couple of technical glitches were handled quickly and professionally but an out of synch video of Garland singing “Mr. Monotony” did ruin what could have been a powerful moment.

The celebratory tone is brought to an end by a melancholy tribute to Garland and her most famous song, as the first notes ring out from “Over The Rainbow” the production to its credit, realises that no one else could come close to the star’s iconic rendition, leaving Judy in her gingham dress to sing alone.

This is very much a production that gives its target audience what it wants. With nigh-on 30 songs on the bill and a first-rate cast, the audience can’t complain it doesn’t get its money’s worth. A fine, quality tribute to a Hollywood legend.

Runs until Sat 6 June 2015 then touring

This article was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/judy-the-songbook-of-judy-garland-theatre-royal-glasgow/

REVIEW: Puttin’ on the Ritz – Playhouse, Edinburgh

The appeal of music from the golden age of movie musicals would seem to be endless.With shows like Top Hat, Singin’ in the Rain and 42nd Street currently or recently completing tours, it’s no surprise that Spirit Productions have launched their self-proclaimed ‘song and dance extravaganza’ Puttin’ on the Ritz.

Utilising the music of the big three; Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and George Gershwin, the show features six vocalists, a troupe of sixteen dancers and special guest star Lorna Luft. Taking the form of a musical review, the action moves along at a brisk pace, each classic hit segueing into the next on a whistle-stop tour of the greatest hits of Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’.

Whilst each featured vocalist is entirely competent, the dancers adept, the choreography inventive and the costumes and set suitably glittery, the whole affair is lacking a certain sparkle. The singers appear under-amplified in the cavernous auditorium, the sound failing to reach or make any impact on the circle where this reviewer was seated. The projection screen titles and flat introductions by the cast members also fail to build any rapport with the audience; a bit of chat would have gone a long way to drawing the audience in.

Special guest star Luft, the daughter of arguably the greatest movie musical star of all time, Judy Garland, appears briefly in each act singing a selection of her mother’s most famous songs. Her presence on the bill, undoubtedly the major draw, adds a direct connection to the songs we are experiencing here, and she endeavours to conjur up a rapport with the crowd, sharing some Hollywood anecdotes and revealing that Garland’s ancestors were from Aberdeen to curry a bit of favour with the locals. But it just isn’t enough and her appearance is all too brief.

There is no question that the raw material is all here, the music of the great American Songbook is amongst the greatest ever written, each of the performers undoubtedly talented, but on the whole Puttin’ on the Ritz is lacking that certain something that makes for a truly great night at the theatre.

Runs until 20 September 2014