Judy Garland is coming to Montreal!
by Sharman Yarnell
The year was 1961. Montreal was a hotspot for entertainment.
English Theater was thriving.
Montrealers attended performances atop Mount Royal in the Mountain Playhouse. With tenacit, and a lot of hard work, Joy Thompson was able to make a theater out of the old Montreal Toboggan and Ski Club that overlooked Beaver Lake. By 1961, it was being run by Norma Springford and Walter Massey. From His Majesty’s on Guy Street, to the Orpheum on Ste. Catherine, the Montreal Repertory Theater, founded in 1930 by Martha Allan (known as the Theater Guild), Montreal had no end of venues that supported the arts. It was a vibrant, electric city – throbbing with a multi-cultural night life.
The Montreal Forum also had its share of theatrical moments that were not hockey related.
On October 29, Judy Garland played there to masses of cheering fans, french and english. In his book, It’s Sid Bernstein Calling, Bernstein tells of her wanting to cancel iphone 8 price the show moments before she was to go on because she felt she was losing her voice. By promising to call in a specialist from New York, he was able to persuade her to go on stage. She was emotional, insecure and unhappy.
Roger Peace, no stranger to Montreal’s musical theater scene, writes about women in show business, women who have had their share of pain and suffering. He has a unique ability to go beyond the obvious and get to their hearts and souls. His latest, Songs and Stories of Judy Garland (Judy Garland: By Myself), is an excellent addition to his repertoire.
His past works are: Piaf: Love Conquers All, Red Hot Mama: Songs and Stories of Sophie Tucker and The Mahalia Jackson Musical, to name but a few.
He started thinking about doing a piece on Garland about five years ago.
“I just thought she would make an interesting story for people who like her. I had spoken with her and also had first hand information on her from people who worked with her back stage that night.”
At the concert, he recalls the moment she walked on stage to a heart-pounding overture, “Oh my goodness me, there she was with Mort Lindsey and a thirty piece orchestra. The crowd went absolutely wild.” At the end of the concert, people were running down the aisle, “Judy, Judy! More, more! People were throwing flowers and screaming.” To say the lady and her music had a hypnotic effect on an audience, would be an understatement. It was, as Peace pointed out, “The normal Judy event.”
Denise Rose is coming to Montreal to take on the role of Garland. The 60’s were a tumultuous time for Garland and Rose captures Garland as if she has stepped into the singer’s famous red shoes. She clicks the heels and off she goes – her look and sound is astonishingly accurate.
In the story, the audience becomes the reporter to whom Judy is talking.
Based on the 1961 visit, Peace has taken some artistic liberties. He has included 14 songs, some of which were done that night – Over the Rainbow, Swanee, The Man That Got Away, Rock-a-bye Your Baby. He has also added some songs, including one that he wrote with Chris Barillaro (Musical Director), Only Time Will Tell. The entire Palace Medley from Carnegie Hall is also part of the show.
Were you there that night in 1961? Relive the moment. If you weren’t there, now’s the time to get acquainted with one of North America’s best loved legends – The multi-talented, Judy Garland.
You must see Songs and Stories of Judy Garland (Judy: By Myself).
Three performances only! May 3 and 4th at the Segal.
For Tickets: tickets: 514-739-7944