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BWW Reviews: JUDY, BARBARA, LIZA Extended at Quality Hill Playhouse


How do you tell if a musical is a success? The answer is easy, it is a success when at intermission, you walk into the restroom, one person is whistling, and two are humming songs from the show. That is what happens at the Quality Hill Playhouse production of Judy, Barbara, Liza at the Playhouse at 303 W. 10 in Kansas City. Judy, Barbara, Liza wraps up the 20th season of Quality Hill.

The original cabaret revue conceived and arranged by Artistic Director J. Kent Barnhart is a tribute to three of the top divas in the entertainment business, Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, and Liza Minnelli. Barnhart announced during the Monday night performance that the production had gained so much popularity that the original closing date of June 28 has been extended to July 12.

Judy Garland rose to stardom as Dorothy in the 1939 release of The Wizard of Oz and is well known for her films with Mickey Rooney. Barbara Streisand made her debut with an Academy Award winning performance as Fanny Brice in Funny Face and the stage production won her the Tony Award. She starred in the second remake of A Star Is Born, a role played by Garland in the first remake. Liza Minnelli made her film debut at 14 months in Easter Parade starring her mother, Judy Garland. Garland later turned down the role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret, which went to second choice Liza Minnelli.

Judy, Barbara, Liza begins with a set of songs which had been performed by Garland; "Hooray For Love," "You Made Me Love You" from Broadway Melody of 1938, "That Old Black Magic," and her signature song "Over the Rainbow" among others. Streisand is the focus of the second set that includes "People" from Funny Girl, "My Coloring Book," and "One Less Bell To Answer/A House Is Not A Home."

Songs of Liza Minnelli open the second act with a humorous rendition of "Liza With a Z." "A Quiet Thing," "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret, and the theme from New York New York are among those featured. Judy, Barbara, Liza continues with songs from all three of the superstars and include "Together Wherever We Go," "Cabaret," and "Happy Days Are Here Again."

Lauren Braton, Ashley Pankow, and Christina Burton star in Judy, Barbara, Liza. Braton has a powerful and magnificent voice, coupled with a commanding stage presence. Braton knocks it out of the park singing "Come Rain or Come Shine." Pankow is outstanding manipulating the tone of her vocals and facial expressions to add whimsy to "Ring Them Bells." The solo vocals of Burton are wonderful; "Don't Tell Mama" from Cabaret was particularly delightful. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to hear her when mixed with the dynamic voices of Braton and Pankow.

The trio is accompanied by Barnhart on piano and emceeing the show, Brian Wilson on bass, and Ken Remmert on drums. Judy, Barbara, Liza has been extended with many performances sold out. Purchase tickets by calling 816-421-1700 or visit the Quality Hill Playhouse website. Photo by Larry Levenson courtesy of Quality Hill Playhouse.

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