Bennett Is Garland Again, End of the Rainbow ToursDate: 23 June 2011
End of the Rainbow, the Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Award-nominated play with music starring Tracie Bennett as Judy Garland facing the end of her career, will launch a 13-week national tour from the Royal & Derngate, Northampton.
As previously tipped, Bennett reprises her acclaimed performance at the Northampton venue from 25 August to 3 September 2011, having fronted the show's February 2010 outing there prior to an extended West End transfer at Trafalgar Studios 1.
After Northampton End of the Rainbow will travel to Norwich, Nottingham, Cardiff, Cambridge, Brighton, Newcastle, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Cheltenham, Bath, Sheffield and Richmond.
The production will also transfer to the United States, with dates recently announced for a January to March 2012 run at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in which Bennett will also star.
It’s December 1968 and Judy Garland is about to make her comeback... again. In a London hotel room with her young new fiancé at her side, Garland battles with a tornado of drugs and alcohol as she undertakes an exhausting series of concerts at the Talk of the Town to try and reclaim her crown as the greatest talent of her generation. Despite a series of failed marriages and a wrecked Hollywood career, Judy remains a tough, compelling, remarkable woman always armed to the teeth with her legendary razor-sharp wit.
Garland died in London following an accidental drugs overdose on 22 June 1969, aged 47. Written by Peter Quilter and directed by Terry Johnson, the musical drama about her final months includes several of her best-known songs, including “Get Happy”, “Come Rain or Come Shine”, “The Trolley Song”, “The Man That Got Away” and, from The Wizard of Oz, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.
End of the Rainbow had its world premiere in July 2005 at Sydney Opera House and proved a sell-out hit there and in Melbourne, with another Whatsonstage.com Award winner, Australian Caroline O'Connor, who reprised her performance for the show’s UK premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in August 2006.
Tracie Bennett also appeared in an earlier incarnation of Quilter’s play at London’s New End Theatre in 2001, when it ran under the title of The Last Song of the Nightingale and the American diva was unnamed though a thinly disguised version of Garland. Quilter’s other credits include the Boyband and Glorious!, both of which also had West End seasons.
Bennett is joined in the cast by Hilton McRae, who reprises his West End and Northampton role alongside Robin Browne. Norman Bowman, a new addition to the cast, will play the role of Mickey Denes, Garland's young manager and soon-to-be fifth husband.
End of the Rainbow opened on 22 November 2010 (previews from 15 November) at Trafalgar Studios 1 where it played an extended run to 21 May 2011. The production was nominated for four Olivier Awards including Best Actress for Bennett and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for McRae. Bennett also picked up a Whatsonstage.com Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play.
Bennett has previous picked up two Whatsonstage.com Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, first for Hairspray and then La Cage aux Folles. The latter was also directed by Terry Johnson. Johnson’s many other directing credits include The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Rain Man, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and his own plays Piano/Forte, Hitchcock Blonde and Dead Funny.
The production is designed by William Dudley, with sound by Gareth Owen, lighting by Simon Corder and musical direction by Gareth Valentine. It’s presented by Lee Dean, Jenny Topper, Laurence Myers, Charles Diamond, Hilary Williams and Pinstripe Productions in association with Royal & Derngate, Northampton.