For years, legendary actress and singer Judy Garland has been the province of cruel comedians depicting her as a pill-swigging boozehound and female impersonators mining her mix of heartbreak and chin-up gusto for an inside-y crowd of post-Stonewallers. But now the old broad is moving uptown — to Broadway, no less, apparently set to arrive at a Shubert venue this fall.
In the person of Jim Bailey, Judy Garland Live! will open Oct. 16 — fifty years to the day after the real Garland opened her famous Palace Theatre stint. As of July 5, producers have yet to announce the venue of Garland's latest appearance, which has also yet to set a first preview date for its six week limited engagement. "Everything's still being put together," a Keith Sherman office spokesperson told Playbill On-Line (June 19). "Nothing else is set."
A director and set designer have yet to be announced, though it is known that Garland's original musical director, Mort Lindsey, will helm a 16 piece orchestra while Bailey makes the songs and stories of La Judy come alive.
Bailey, an impersonator of such personages as Peggy Lee and Phyllis Diller for more than a quarter century, has trained as an opera singer and sung before four presidents and the British Royal Family. Not only has he played Barbra Streisand on TV's "Ally McBeal," he's dueted as Judy Garland with no less than Liza Minnelli.
Producing the concert for JMS Productions, Inc. is Jennifer M. Sanchez, who co-produced the York Theatre's well-received chamber musical, Suburb, as well as West Coast cabaret evenings with Michael Feinstein and Andrea Marcovicci. Her credits also mention a UK West End revue of Jerry Herman tunes, "The Best of Times," which is apparently Off-Broadway-bound next year. A child star made legendary by "The Wizard of Oz" and her lighthearted flicks with Mickey Rooney, Garland graduated to more grown-up fare (Meet Me in St. Louis, Judgment at Nuremberg) but also succumbed to an unhealthy lifestyle. Thanks to her emotional, cathartic concerts, she became (and remains) an icon for the gay community and still holds a fascination for millions, as proved by the ratings and reviews granted a recent TV biopic.
— By David Lefkowitz