Michael Cumpsty is Anthony, Garland’s musical director and pianist. Anthony and Judy have an instantaneous connection, she had worked with him previously in a disastrous show in Sydney. this makes Mickey jealous, even if Anthony is a gay man.
As Anthony, Michael Cumpsty is droll and to the point. His sarcasm runs deep. Tom Pelphrey’s performance as Mickey is not as three-dimensional as Ms. Bennett’s or Mr. Cumpsty’s.
Garland rehearses for her new show in her hotel room with a baby grand piano. We move back and forth between the hotel room and the stage of The Talk of the Town by flying out the upstage wall of the hotel suite revealing a six-man combo on a bandstand. When that wall flies out, the show pops and Judy is on.
Ms. Bennett covers many of the most famous songs associated with Garland: “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Just in Time,” “For Me and My Gal,” “You Made Me Love You,” “The Man That Got Away,” “When You’re Smiling,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and of course, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Ms. Bennett has a big voice and has managed to precisely duplicate Ms. Garland’s vibrato and vocal mannerisms, channeling Judy. The band behind her, under the direction of Jeffrey Saver is smokin’. Director Terry Johnson has kept the show simple and efficient.
Peter Quilter’s script appears to be factually correct, with liberties taken here and there. Part of the problem is, there isn’t anything revelatory in it. It doesn’t delve into Judy’s psyche beyond her known addiction to pills, alcohol and men. His Judy is superficially self-deprecating with an insatiable demand for attention. It’s like that friend that always has to be the center of attention, the person who sucks the oxygen out of the room.
End of the Rainbow is enjoyable due to its dynamo star, Tracie Bennett, and her ability to completely capture the essence of the Judy we all think we know.