BWW Reviews: THE SONGBOOK OF JUDY GARLAND, Theatre Royal, Glasgow, June 2 2015
The Songbook of Judy Garland had me hooked from the first few minutes of the performance. The stage setting was simple but beautiful, classic Hollywood stylings. Background screens projected the cast credits in the style of an MGM movie before the cast joined the stage to perform Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart.
This was opening night in Glasgow for the production and there were a couple of minor technical hitches in Act 1. During one of the film clips of Judy singing, the sound was out of sync with the footage. Shortly after this one of the microphones stopped working but the cast handled the problems well and there were no further issues during the show.
I was already fairly sure that I would enjoy Louise Dearman's performance but I did not expect to be so impressed by her dancing! Having seen Dearman in some very big shows previously, it was really lovely to see her perform in what felt like a more stripped-back role. While The Songbook of Judy Garland is a very classy and polished affair, the main focus is the stunning vocals and she was perfectly cast in this production!
While Lorna Luft, daughter of Judy Garland, is billed as the star of the show she doesn't appear onstage until the penultimate song of Act 1. I found myself beginning to doubt her star rating as I was so blown away by the rest of the cast, I didn't feel that she could bring anything more to this already splendid production. Thankfully, I'm not opposed to being very wrong about some things and Lorna's performance was absolutely outstanding! Before her entrance they played a short film clip of Judy Garland singing a song to her very young daughter onstage which was a really touching moment. Between songs Luft told anecdotes about her mother and gave the audience a sense of what an extraordinary woman she was.
A special mention also goes to Ray Quinn for this performance. His tap dancing really was something to behold and I loved his dance sequences with Louise Dearman. Another highlight for me was Dearman and Luft's duet of Get Happy/Happy Days with footage of Judy and Barbra on the screens in the background. It really was absolutely beautiful. The finale featured more audio from Judy Garland (I'm sure you can guess which song they closed with) and was very moving with the full cast onstage.
The Songbook of Judy Garland is a wonderful and impossibly stylish production which pays tribute to a true legend. I'm desperate to try and catch it again before it leaves Glasgow and would urge anyone else to do the same!