“The End Of the Rainbow” at MTC

By Marlene S. Gaylinn

The saying, “The end of the rainbow,” signifies a pot of gold, which is just beyond human reach. For legendary singer, Judy Garland, who played “Dorothy” in the film “The Wizard of Oz,” the end of the rainbow signified a futile struggle for happiness. In the end, this famous, shining star succumbed to drugs and booze and died at an early age. In this play with music by Peter Quilter, Music Theatre of Connecticut’s (MTC) Kevin Connors, expertly directs Coleen Sexton as “Judy,” through her backstage trials and tantrums.

Sexton is able to reproduce some of Judy Garland’s mannerisms. She also has an expressive voice, which gets more intense and meaningful as the show progresses. Folks of a certain generation will certainly remember the songs associated with the star: “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby,” Just in Time,” “For Me and My Gal,” You Made Me Love You,” “The Trolley Song,” “The Man That Got Away,” “When You’re Smiling,” and her signature song, “Over the Rainbow.”

A poignant scene has an indisposed Judy forgetting the order of the program’s songs while entangled in the microphone’s electrical cord. A minor criticism is Sexton’s sophisticated, Julie Andrews accent which clashes with the four-letter word, down-to-earth nature of the real Judy. The singer is accompanied by talented Piano/Conductor Thomas Conroy (who is also “Anthony” in the play). The fine-sounding musicians are: Bass - Henry Lusgo, Drums - Chris Johnson, and Reeds - Gary Ruggiero.

The play, which is also a song concert, takes place at the Ritz Hotel in London during the Christmas season of 1968. Continuously bickering over drugs and drinking while helping to prop the star up and onto her feet are her devoted Musical Director (the aforementioned Thomas Conroy) and “Mickey Deans,” one of Judy’s cling-on lovers who is very effectively portrayed by Luke Darnell. Matt Densky (Crumpet in MTC’s “The Santaland Diaries”) plays several, amusing, character roles.

This show marks the conclusion of MTC’s 30th Anniversary. Its new season will begin November 3rd and will feature: “The Bridges of Madison County,” “Love Letters,” “The 39 Steps,” and “Fun Home.” A special early bird subscription is being offered now.

Plays to April 23 Tickets: 203-454-3883

This review appears in “On CT & NY Theatre” April/2017

 

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