The legend of Hollywood actress Judy Garland reignites this month, in an all-singing, all-dancing, coming out story – 'Judy Strikes Back'.
Audiences will be swept away with this irreverent cabaret that shines the spotlight on an unseen version of Judy Garland (Bernadette Meenach), coming clean in her own words, on her own terms, and finally getting over that rainbow.
With an autobiography hot off the heavenly presses (having never released one before her early death in 1969) and reuniting with her musical director Mort Lindsey, Judy will reminisce, sing some old favourites and try out some new numbers she’s been working on beyond the grave.
When Bernadette Meenach took on the role of Judy Garland in a production of 'The Boy From Oz' in 2011, she was struck by how many people remember Judy Garland as either Dorothy Gale in 1939’s 'The Wizard Of Oz' or the pin-up girl of celebrity drug addiction.
“I wanted to learn more about what made her tick,” says Bernadette. “Searching through biographies, interviews, documentaries, I’ve created a script that’s almost in Judy’s own words.
“This is more than a tribute show. It’s a post-modern vaudevillian challenge to the nature of tragedy, acting and the positioning of women.”
With a few surprises and the possibility of more than one Judy Garland appearing on the night, this once-in-an-afterlife evening will take audiences beyond Kansas. Here are just five little-known facts about Judy.1.
When you mention the name Judy Garland most people think of Dorothy in the 1939 technicolour film 'Wizard Of Oz' but she started her career in a vaudeville act with her sisters Virginia and Mary Jane Gumm. Judy knew it was time to move on to bigger and better things when they got billed as the 'Glum Sisters'.2.
Guys like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior were famous for being in the 'Rat Pack' but Judy was a founding member along with her neighbours Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Each member of the Pack had an official title: Judy’s was Vice President.3.
There was a Judy Garland impersonator that Judy loved. One night she went to see him do his Garland tribute act. At interval she went back stage to meet him and they decided to play a trick on the audience. They switched places. So the impersonator sat in the audience and the real Judy performed the whole second act. After the show, those sitting near the impersonator said of the performance they’d just seen, “he’s pretty good but he’s got nothing on you, Judy.” Liza was so impressed that after her mother died she did a Vegas show with him, recreating the concerts she had done with her mother years before at the London Palladium concert.4.
Bernadette who will play Judy in 'Judy Strikes Back' was born three days after Garland died so she never got to see her perform live. But her hairdresser did.5.
Susie Boyt, author of 'My Judy Garland Life' suggests there are two types of Judy fans. The Good Fans and the Bad Fans. The Good love her for her talent and personality and will do anything to protect her from criticism. The Bad thrive on the misfortunes she suffered throughout her life. They are even willing to pay high prices on Ebay for Garland’s old pill bottles and her morgue toe tag. 'Judy Strikes Back' invites both the Good and the Bad to come along and duke it out once and for all.'Judy Strikes Back' plays the Judith Wright Centre, 13-15 August.