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April 2, 2012

The No. 1 Reason To See End of the Rainbow

by Jesse North

end of the rainbow broadway poster tracie bennettIt is not a happy time for the “Get Happy” singer. In the new play End of the Rainbow, Tracie Bennett plays the unraveling Judy Garland, just six months before her fatal overdose. The famous singer and actress is in London with her piano accompanist and fiancé (this will be marriage no. 5) and barely well enough to perform the series of concerts for which she is contracted. Prescription drugs and booze leave her unable to perform, performing leaves her craving prescription drugs and booze, and the two men overseeing her are left scrambling to pick up the pieces of her disintegrating life and career.

The No. 1 Reason To See End of the Rainbow: The story of a great performer begetting a great performance
In her Broadway debut, Bennett astounds as the iconic Garland. The role requires screaming, crying, laughing, crawling, and belting… lots of belting. Performance interludes of Garland’s greatest hits are interspersed with the dramatic scenes and Bennett must perform at top-concert level—sometimes as immaculate Garland, sometimes as manic Garland. To watch Bennett transition out of a scene in which she has been screaming at her fiancé Mickey (Tom Pelphrey) to a musical number with vocal perfection is incredible. It’s also exhausting to watch. Bennett not only sings with Garland’s passion, but also depicts the anguish she experienced in her personal life. Broken and bruised from a lifetime of industry abuse and loves she has lost along the way, Bennett plays a woman who is no longer within arms reach of solving her problems. When she fights Mickey for a bottle of prescription drugs, I felt like I wanted to leap on stage and wrestle them away from her as well. Bennett disappears inside Garland and the effect is unnerving. However, the life the audience has been invited to watch wasn’t all rainbows (excuse the pun). We have come to see the sad but true story of how one of the world’s most beloved performers concluded her life and Bennett claws and pulls at every last strand of despair. It’s strangely beautiful to think that the dramatic storytelling of a great talent could facilitate the birth of a new one. Bennett becomes a star by depicting Garland’s demise.

End of the Rainbow general rush policy: Beginning when the box office opens, up to two tickets may be purchased per person for $31.50 each.

end of the rainbow broadway tracie bennett

Photo: Carol Rosegg

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