End Of The Rainbow @ Adelaide Cabaret Festival Review

Helen Dallimore stars as Judy Garland in 'End Of The Rainbow', playing at 2019 Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Helen Dallimore stars as Judy Garland in 'End Of The Rainbow', playing at 2019 Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Image © Chris Herzfeld

Holographic tours by deceased musical icons are not to far away from being a reality – ABBA are doing a hologram tour this year.


With the State Theatre Company of South Australia’s production of Phillip Quilter’s 'End Of The Rainbow' at Adelaide Cabaret Festival though, you can already experience what it was like to see vaudeville and cinematic icon Judy Garland in the flesh, as global musical theatre sensation Helen Dallimore uncannily morphs into the character.

It is no easy task to replicate the charisma, energy and despair possessed by one of history’s most acclaimed and tragic entertainers, Judy Garland, in her final months of life. The award-winning Australian and star of the West End, Helen is uniquely suited for the role for various reasons.

Like the Judy depicted on stage in 'End Of The Rainbow', Helen is 47; and when cloaked in the sparkling costumes designed by Ailsa Patterson, the physical resemblance is uncanny.

Like Judy, Helen rose to fame by portraying a character created by Frank Baum; for Judy it was playing Dorothy in original cinematic production of 'The Wizard Of Oz'. While for Helen, it was becoming Glinda in the original smash hit West End production of 'Wicked'.

Helen, albeit to a lesser extent, knows what it can feel like to be defined by a role.

Finally, during her last appearance at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in ‘Don’t Bother To Knock’, Helen demonstrated her impersonation prowess, as she brought her versions of blonde bombshells Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Dolly Parton and Madonna to the stage.

Helen is a chameleon. She uses her vocal chords and every inch of her body to become Judy; she has the infectious giggle, the trademark voice, the facial gestures.

It takes no effort to suspend your disbelief and enter the world that is being created on stage because of the mastery of this performance, particularly while she is singing.

She easily alternates between the two poles in Judy’s chemically-induced personality; the Ritalin frenzy of ‘Come Rain Or Come Shine’ and the barbiturate wallow of ‘The Man That Got Away’.

The 'odd couple' supporting cast of Stephen Sheehan, as Judy’s gay pianist Anthony, and Nic English as her final husband, Mikey Deanes, float effortlessly within Helen’s whirlwind.

Stephen is an amalgam of the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion, while Nic is the Wicked Witch, in a story where, unfortunately, the protagonist never finds a way to overcome her oppressors, both internal and external, and never clicks her heals and finds her way safely home.

With its exploration of depression and addiction, 'End Of The Rainbow' is an essential show for our times.

The show’s setting alternates between the hotel room and the stage. So often we only see the stage, the mask, the outward representation that others choose to convey to the world. We need to see the hotel room too, in all its ugliness, and learn to love and understand that as well.

Eddie Morrison, in a trio of minor roles, evoked hearty laughs, particularly with his portrayal of a snooty BBC interviewer.

The quartet of actors, guided by the wizardry of Elena Carapetis, and backed by the a five-piece ensemble directed by Carol Young, combine like colours of the rainbow, to produce a fleeting moment of beauty before our eyes.

★★★★★


'End Of The Rainbow' plays at 2019 Adelaide Cabaret Festival until 22 June.

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