End of the Rainbow: An Illustrated Guide

Everything you need to know about our electric portrait of Judy Garland

Feeling the heat: Judy Garland under the stage lights

Peter Quilter’s End of the Rainbow is a tribute to the life and music of Judy Garland.

Hollywood has a way of creating myths out of its fallen stars. End of the Rainbow re-writes Judy’s fabled final days, and creates an enthralling portrait of a woman who was at once deeply flawed, brilliantly witty and incredibly talented. A woman who was willfully misunderstood; who was created by the Hollywood machine and quickly cast aside when she was deemed too problematic.

It’s a story about the dark side of celebrity and fame, and the hidden cost of being a star. But End of the Rainbow is also a defiantly celebratory and triumphant look at an artist who, despite everything, managed to dazzle and captivate audiences all over the world.

The Story:

Judy, her fifth husband Mickey Deans and her accompanist, Anthony, check into the Ritz Hotel in London before beginning a six-week string of performances at The Talk of the Town nightclub. But as opening night nears, Judy must battle her demons to take her spot centre-stage.

The play features ten of Judy’s most famous songs. It’s an experience that is bitingly funny, gently poignant and very, very glamorous. It’s as big, campy and beautiful as any classic Hollywood film.

In the tradition of the great musicals of the 1930s, End of the Rainbow is a backstage musical or a musical that revolves around the production of a show (in this case, Judy’s performances at The Talk of the Town). A backstage musical is one where the narrative arc of the story (on stage or on film) is woven with onstage musical numbers that correspond to the ideas and emotions of the story.

When you’re watching End of the Rainbow you’ll be in Judy’s hotel room as she rehearses for her show, and then you’ll be transported to The Talk of the Town. The audience, then, has a stronger role to play in that you become part of the show. Judy breaks the fourth wall and starts performing directly for you. For a person like Garland, whose on-screen and off-screen lives were seemingly inseparable in the eyes of the public, this mode of storytelling allows the audience to truly grasp how the machinations of fame and celebrity challenged Garland.

Think of it as getting a few shows in one.

All of them will be fabulous.

The Team:

The show is directed by State Theatre Company South Australia’s Resident Artist Elena Carapetis. Elena recently wrote The Gods of Strangers and has appeared in numerous productions for the company as an actor. This is her mainstage directorial debut. She’s assisted by Adriana Bonaccurso, an actor and director who has worked extensively throughout Australia.

Judy Garland is brought to life by musical theatre icon Helen Dallimore. Helen is a beloved actor, writer and director. She’s known for originating the character of Glinda the Good Witch in the West End production of Wicked, and for originating the role of Paulette in Legally Blonde The Musical.

Helen Dallimore as Judy Garland

Mickey Deans is brought to life by Adelaide actor Nic English, who sports a rather spectacular bowl haircut for the role.

Nic English as Mickey Deans

Stephen Sheehan rounds out the cast as Anthony, Judy’s longtime friend and pianist. The character, according to Peter Quilter, is an amalgam of many of Judy’s musical collaborators, as well as a representation of the gay men who loved Judy and supported her career. Stephen, as Anthony, plays piano live throughout the show.

Stephen Sheehan as Anthony, the pianist

Eddie Morrison plays multiple roles throughout the show (a BBC reporter, a hotel attendant and a stage manger left frantic by Judy’s erratic behaviour) as well as the double bass in the band. He has become a master of different English accents.

Eddie Morrison being everyone in End of the Rainbow

All of this is supported by an incredible six-piece band led by musical director Carol Young. It’s all very grand and very showbiz… exactly as it should be for Ms Judy Garland.

The Playwright:

In a recent interview, Peter Quilter spoke about his decision to create a play that told the whole story about Judy Garland:

I want the audience to see a real person, with all her greatness, all her faults, all her cracks, all her sparkle. When writing about somebody so loved, you feel a pressure to always show them at their best. This is true of so many biographical shows and movies — always showing the positive side. But my belief was that if you give the audience the whole person then they can truly begin to understand them. And that enables us to empathise, to realise all the things that are going on and how she’s trying to battle through it all. So Garland is not always shown at her best in this play — sometimes we see her at her very worst. But by the end, the audience still adores her. That’s because it feels true.

When watching End of the Rainbow, you should fall in love with Judy Garland (we think it’s impossible not to), but you should also come to know her in a different way. And, perhaps, understand the world she came from.

All while singing her songs.

End of the Rainbow plays in the Royalty Theatre from 31 May — 22 June as part of Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Tickets are available here.

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Behind the Curtain

State Theatre Company South Australia welcomes you behind the curtain. Join us for bold opinions and discussions of art and theatre and learn about what makes the onstage magic happen.

Behind the Curtain

State Theatre Company South Australia welcomes you behind the curtain. Join us for bold opinions and discussions of art and theatre and learn about what makes the onstage magic happen.