BWW Review: Gloria Swansong is Mesmerizing in JUDY AT CARNEGIE HALL at Stonewall Inn
Watching Gloria Swansong lip-sync Judy Garland's Carnegie Hall was like performance-inception: somehow, we were experiencing Judy Garland's 1961 performance in most of its glory (recordings are not the same as being there in the flesh, after all), while also delighting in Gloria's impeccable artistry as well.
The upper room of the Stonewall Inn was transported back in time for the 90-minute performance, blessed with Garland's full-bodied singing and enchanted by the anecdotes encompassed in the recording. At the same time, we were situated squarely in 2020, watching Gloria Swansong perform. She wore two different outfits, the first, a pair of black slacks paired a shimmery silver-and-black blouse, the second a gorgeous white dress with black designs and a slit up to there, all glitz, glamor, and sophistication befitting the star she presented and the star she is.
Ms. Swansong fully embodied her tribute show, becoming Judy Garland in facial expressions, body language, and so much more. It should go without saying that the goal of a lip-sync performance is for the audience to forget they're not hearing songs from the lips of the performer themself, but I still found myself constantly amazed to have to remember: this is Judy, not Gloria doing the singing.
At the very beginning of the show was "When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles with You)," during which Gloria sashayed up and down the small aisle between seats in the club, handing out roses and smiling benignly at the enraptured audience, who took to heart the invitation to make some noise made before the show started. Throughout her performance, Swansong wowed her enraptured audience, one that was buying the Judy Garland persona lock, stock, and barrel, as Gloria sashayed and stamped in time to "Puttin' On The Ritz," stayed still for "You're Nearer" and blazed brightly for the ultimate torch song, "The Man That Got Away." Whether it was for Gloria or Judy, the enraptured audience cheered and screamed loudly for this classic-style drag performance being created by a classic drag performer.
Throughout the whole performance, Gloria truly owned not just the stage, but the stairs to the right of the stage, the pathway between seats, sometimes even crowding up in audience members' personal space (they never seemed to mind). She was fully present in every space she occupied; more than present, even.
She was the space, and there was nothing else to do but be enchanted.
Gloria Swansong's Judy Garland show plays The Stonewall Inn regularly. For information and tickets please visit The Stonewall Inn website Here.