Roughly 15 minutes before the end of the play in which Tony nominee Bennett portrays a late-in-life Garland, an electrical surge from the lightning storm caused the stage lights to fail. Without stopping the performance, stage management brought up the house lights and with the use of a follow spot and upstage work lights (for the six-piece band), Bennett and her co-stars Tony nominee Michael Cumpsty, Tom Pelphrey and Jay Russell, finished the performance. The music-filled play ends with a rueful, emotional rendition of the Garland signature "Over the Rainbow."
Musical director Jeffrey Saver, who leads an on-stage six-piece band, told Playbill.com that the pounding rain was so intense the cast and crew could hear it on stage. None of it distracted the actors or musicians Saver said, adding, "If anything, it was more focused and definitely had an extra edge. I just listened to Tracie phrase (as I always do), and we finished a very heartfelt 'Over The Rainbow.'"
"Even in the dark, there's enough wattage in Tracie Bennett's performance to light up Manhattan — the audience left more than satisfied," a spokesperson for the production told Playbill.com.
A theatregoer at the performance told Playbill.com that the audience gave a "breathtaking" Bennett and company a standing ovation after the performance. The Belasco also suffered extreme flooding in its basement and lower lobby.
The play began Broadway previews March 19 and opened to strong reviews April 2 at the Belasco Theatre. It recently extended its Broadway run through Jan. 6, 2013. It is directed by Tony Award-winning La Cage aux Folles director Terry Johnson. Bennett delivers such Garland signatures as "The Man That Got Away," "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "The Trolley Song" during the performance.
End of the Rainbow, with Bennett in tow, will launch a U.S. national tour at the Center Theatre Group's Ahmanson Theatre March 12-April 21, 2013.
Benett is joined on stage by Tony nominee Cumpsty (The Constant Wife, Democracy) as Garland's accompanist, Anthony, with Emmy winner Pelphrey ("Guiding Light") as her husband, Mickey Deans, and Russell (Our Town, The Play What I Wrote) in a variety of roles.
Music director Saver leads a six-piece on-stage band who back Bennett throughout the evening with arrangements faithful to Garland's originals. An album "Tracie Bennett Sings Judy: Songs from the Broadway Production of End of the Rainbow and Other Garland Classics" is currently available from Masterworks Broadway. (For other show and vocal recordings, visit the Playbill Store.)
According to the producers, "End of the Rainbow is set in December 1968 and Judy Garland is about to make her comeback... again. In a London hotel room preparing for a series of concerts, with both her new young fiancé and her adoring accompanist, Garland struggles to get 'beyond the rainbow' with her signature cocktail of talent, tenacity, and razor-sharp wit. This savagely funny drama offers unique insight into the inner conflict that inspired and consumed one of the most beloved figures in American popular culture. End of the Rainbow features some of Garland’s most memorable songs, performed with the show-stopping gusto for which she will always be remembered."
The production has set and costume design by William Dudley, lighting design by Christopher Akerlind, sound design by Gareth Owen. Chris Egan penned the arrangements. Kate Wilson is voice and dialect consultant.
For tickets visit Telecharge.com or phone (212) 239-6200. The Belasco Theatre is located at 111 West 44th Street.