Show: Judy & Liza
Location: St Helens Theatre Royal
Date: Wednesday 13 October 2021
Running Time: 135 Minutes
Performers: Emma Dears & Helen Sheals
Production Companies: Bill Elms Productions & On Song Productions
Writer: Emma Dears
Musical Director: Francis Goodhand
This is our theatre review for Judy & Liza at St Helens theatre Royal. So, let’s take a look at Judy & Liza!
Judy & Liza
This is a dazzling and heart-warming stage show charting the careers and relationship between Hollywood mother and daughter Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli. So, the musical would open with a black-and-white film in the background s
Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli are back together again thanks to the sensational musical experience; Judy and Liza. This dazzling production, now in its tenth year, tells the turbulent tale of Hollywood’s biggest stars against the backdrop of their infamous 1964 London Palladium concert. West End stars Emma Dears and Helen Sheals belt out their most famous hits with uncanny resemblance, bursting with elusive star quality. Featuring live performances of Cabaret, Maybe This Time, The Trolley Song and The Man That Got Away to name but a few. The audience are taken on an emotional rollercoaster journey as we discover the uncanny parallels between some of Judy and Liza’s most iconic songs and their own personal lives. Spend an evening with the mother and daughter who really did put the ‘show’ into showbiz.
The show opens with a beautiful overture and shots of Judy and Liza performing together at the London Palladium in 1964 on which this show is loosely set. Together Wherever We Go is our opening number and from the off it’s clear to see Helen Sheals (Judy) and Emma Dears (Liza) have buckets of charisma and pazazz. There is a suitcase set upstage left and it is opened by Sheals as Dears starts to recant the family history into which Judy Garland was born. Images appear on screen and we learn about Judy’s life as Baby Gumm and part of the The Gumm Sisters. From here would take a quick journey into Judy’s life and how she signed to MGM, featuring songs such as Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy and a beautiful rendition of You Made Me Love You. Sheals’ experience of playing Judy Garland shines through and she looks so comfortable in the spotlight. She has Judy’s mannerisms down perfectly and although I wouldn’t say this is a tribute, it’s a perfect likeness to Judy Garland. Performed with class.
The first half passes quickly where we learn briefly about how Judy became addicted to pills from her hard schedule of working at MGM, her marriage to David Rose and also her demise from MGM. This was a real emotional part of the show where we saw Judy sit and sob her way through Somewhere Over The Rainbow. This was a great point in the show to place the song, as you can feel the true meaning of it. Judy was at her lowest at this point in her life; her cut from MGM, feeling so alone and addicted to pills, this was not a good time for her. You can feel this in the delivery from Sheals. It’s raw and Judy’s struggles resonate with us.
Liza, played by Emma Dears, came into her own in the second half with numbers such as Liza With A Z and Maybe This Time. Dears is a strong performer with a passion for performing and this is perfectly clear to see. Liza is not an easy role to play and she steps up to the plate with conviction. Dears talks us through Judy’s death with sensitivity and this was done with real grace. Judy Garland had a turbulent life and the show covers the highs and lows. Dears’ version of Cabaret was outstanding; a brilliant performance.
The two work extremely well together onstage, their harmonies are seamless and the dancing is well timed with a comedic value, harking back to the Vaudeville days. The show would finish with a beautiful rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow/Maybe This Time, the two singing in perfect unison. This time round Somewhere Over The Rainbow was sung loud and clear. Maybe This Time fitted in perfectly around it and it was a perfect way to finish the show.
Judy and Liza is a fitting, wholesome and perfect portrayal of the songbook of Judy Garland and Liza Minelli. Well produced and a perfect trip down memory lane, it’s definitely worth a watch. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore!
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent
Judy & Liza Further Links
For more information about this show, click here.
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