The Property Known As Garland

When Judy Garland gave her last concerts in Copenhagen in March 1969 she was 48 and a wreck. There was a documentary made of this tour by Swedish TV, which was never shown, I believe, because scenes of the great gay icon passed out on the floor were deemed too distressing. One biography suggests there is evidence that her last husband had introduced her to heroin.

None of this is shown in The Property Known As Garland. This Judy is a bit raddled and admits to having no voice left, but is otherwise in complete command of her senses. We’re given a tour of her life from abused child coming to MGM to her sacking from her classic 1963-64 TV show. We learn about her financial battles, her adoration of her children, her sense of both needing and being torn apart by the adulation she received. Interestingly, the reason for her impossible behaviour in later years is located in her need to take control and assert herself after years of slavery at MGM studio.

To any Garland fan, this show will not add anything to their knowledge, treading some well-worn paths; it is an uncritical piece of hero-worship. However, it is graced by an astonishing tour-de-force from Sandra Thomas as Garland. She doesn’t exactly impersonate, but she animates the spirit of Judy. Her ferocious energy and considerable presence are worthy of the original. She is ably supported by Neal Beckman as a much-put-upon stage manager.

At 80 minutes, the show could do with some judicious pruning; however, if all you know about one of the greatest female stars that Hollywood produced is a Christmas screening of The Wizard of Oz, this show will be a real eye-opener.

Reviews by Peter Scott-Presland

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The Blurb

Judy Garland fans rave over Billy Van Zandt's fictional backstage account of Garland's final concert. Judy dishes the dirt on her co-stars, husbands and studio. This legendary raconteur mesmerizes! Starring Sandra Thomas and Neal Beckman.

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