The cast of the upcoming Judy Garland biomusical, Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz, recently took time out of their rehearsals to preview some of the show, and talk to Playbill about why Garland’s story needs to be told on stage today.
Starting previews at Paper Mill Playhouse September 26 ahead of an October 6 opening, Ruby Rakos (Billy Elliott) stars as the legendary performer, with her parents Ethel and Frank Gumm portrayed by Olivier winner Lesli Margherita (Zorro the Musical) and Tony nominee Max Von Essen (An American in Paris), respectively. Joining the trio on stage are Karen Mason as Ma Lawlor/Kay Koverman, Stephen DeRosa as Louis B. Mayer, Michael Wartella as Mickey Rooney, and Colin Hanlon as Roger Edens.
The musical covers Garland’s early career as a vaudeville performer leading up to her star-making contract at MGM, a different era of Garland’s life than the upcoming Reneé Zellweger-starring film Judy in theatres September 27 (a day after previews begin at Paper Mill). The movie coversher life leading up to the string of shows at London’s Talk of the Town shortly before her death.
Chasing Rainbows is directed and choreographed by two-time Tony nominee Denis Jones (Tootsie, Holiday Inn) with a book by Marc Acito (Allegiance), musical adaptation and additional music by David Libby (Play it Cool), and conceived by Tina Marie Casmento, who provides additional lyrics.
Rounding out the cast are Tia Altinay, Mackenzie Bell, Kristen Grace Brown, Lamont Brown, Joe Cassidy, Clara Cox, Tessa Grady, Sophie Knapp, Molly Lyons, Kimberly Immanuel, Christina Maxwell, Kevin B. McGlynn, Allsun O’Malley, Samantha Joy Pearlman, Drew Redington, Joshua J. Schwartz, Parker Slaybaugh, Sean Thompson, Violet Tinnirello, and Kathy Voytko.
The production team features orchestrations by Larry Blank, music direction by Lawrence Yurman, scenic design by Alexander Dodge, costume design by Linda Cho, lighting design by Japhy Weideman, sound design by Matt Kraus, projection design by Peter Nigrini, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, and makeup design by Dena Olivieri. John Fricke serves as creative consultant with Bonnie Panson as production stage manager and casting by Tara Rubin Casting.