- Riviera Theater
May 30, 1957 - June 5,
How Judy Whips a Show into Shape
By J. Dorsey Callaghan
-Free Press Theater Critic
Thursday, May 30, 1957
You have a date with Judy
at the Riviera Theater.
It's to be fitted in during
the rehearsal of her show, which opens Thursday night for a run of one
The Judy is, of course, Judy
Garland, the gifted entertainer who personifies show business in our day,
just as it has been personified by a personage in every generation.
The house is dark and the
stage a glare of light, bringing Judy and her outlandish rehearsal costume
into high relief.
A show is taking shape, slowly
and with infinite patience as orchestra leader Jack Cathcart and Judy work
over the background rhythms that make "Rain or Shine" a long-time hit number.
There is a community of thought
and purpose between Judy and Jack. They know what they want, even
though Judy is apt to change things in the full stride of singing on Thursday
Cathcart was with her during
the two fabulous runs at the Palace Theater in New York. Now he has
the job of bringing a local pickup orchestra to show pitch in time for
the opening curtain.
It's not like rehearsing
a symphony, because the material shifts and moves like a pool of quicksilver
under the magic of performance. Judy stops in midsong and sits on
the edge of the stage.
"Gotta rest," says Judy.
"You're telling me," echoes
a fiddler in the pit as he dries his brow with a shirt sleeve.
Judy rests by doing a few
of the trickier measures of "The Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow," and confers
with the pianist as she sings.
You are sitting next to Gene
Byram, voice coach who flew in from Hollywood for the opening. He'll
fly back at midnight Thursday.
"Judy is a smart gal," he
confides. "She knows a whole lot more about music than she'll admit."
You remember back in '38
when Judy, a small flatterer in her teens, told you that you made her think
of her "most favorite person in Hollywood."
"No reason to change my mind
now," she insists later at a real break in rehearsal...still the small
flatterer, and you must admit you love it.
Judy explains that her rehearsal
costume is a lucky one. It consists of a pair of black toreador pants,
a ruffled shirt with the tails hanging out, and a straw hat she picked
up in a Chinese restaurant.
Off stage, a carpenter is
raising hell with a screaming saw, and a stage hand is driving nails, seemingly
at random. In the audience, husband Sid Luft is talking microphones
with the engineer.
On stage, Judy seems oblivious
to all things except the rehearsal. Like all real artists she is
able to eliminate everything else from her consciousness, and that includes
You say goodbye and leave,
realizing that even a few minutes out of a show preparation is a sizable
'Over the Rainbow' Still Tops With Judy
By Robert E. Lubeck -
Thursday, May 30, 1957
Does a star ever weary of
repeating the particular song or role that brought her the most fame?
In the case of Judy Garland
and the song "Over the Rainbow," the answer is no.
"I'd hate to be stuck with
a song like 'Some of These Days,' and that's no reflection on Sophie Tucker,"
the effervescent Judy said here yesterday.
"But 'Rainbow' is such a
beautiful song that I love to sing it because it makes me feel warm and
In town with her new musical
revue, "Judy Garland Sings," which opens a week's engagement at the Riviera
Theater tonight, Hollywood's onetime child star didn't conceal the fact
she is nervous about opening here.
"I'm always a bundle of jitters
when I first step on stage," she explained during an interview in her hotel
"But," she said, with the
kind of winning twinkle that has always won her friends, "I usually get
over it after an hour or two of singing."
Dressed in black silk slacks
and a frilly white blouse, Judy added that she never has felt better than
she does now; also she thinks she is singing better.
"If I do sing better," she
said, "it is because this old dame of 35 has started taking voice lessons
-- and you'd be surprised how much easier it is for me to sing."
Judy, just five feet tall
and possessing the same little-girl charm that once captivated movie-goers,
was a willing and ready speaker on all topics.
Being a child star, she said,
has made her later life somewhat rough because you always have to live
up to yesterday's performances.
"But," she said, "if I had
it to do all over again, I think I would do just as I've done.
"Now I would like to try
my hand at a Broadway play or two -- something in which I could sing a
couple of songs. Also a film, if the right one comes along."
Of all her movies, including
a long tour of duty as the girl next door to Andy Hardy, Judy said the
picture she liked most was "A Star is Born," which won her an Oscar nomination.
Naturally "The Wizard of Oz" is a close second.
ASSURED SHE'S SLIM
Much slimmer than she has
been at various times in recent years, Judy herself brought up the subject
of her weight.
"Don't you think I'm too
fat?" she said several times during the interview.
Each of these queries brought
prompt denials from those assembled. Each time, too, she seemed happier
because of their remarks. It was as if -- for all her fame and success
-- Judy Garland still welcomed a vote of confidence.
Garlands To A Fine Trooper!
JUDY STILL PACKS PUNCH
By Robert E. Lubeck -
Friday, May 31, 1957
She came on stage.
She sang. And Judy Garland had very little trouble conquering her
audience at the Riviera Theater last night.
In less time than it took
to finish the first musical number, the near-capacity crowd was won over.
When she left, a couple dozen songs and 80 minutes later, most everybody
was on their feet; not to leave, but to ask for more.
The basic format of Judy's
show, opening a seven-day engagement here, is like most so-called "in person"
revues. There are four variety acts on the first half of the bill.
Then the star herself takes over from intermission to close.
But here the comparison with
anything you have seen ends completely.
STILL LITTLE GIRL
Judy Garland, singing in
the spotlight of a large and empty stage, is something to remember and,
if you are a Garland fan, to cherish.
She is still a little girl
in a sense, even though her 35 years have taken a certain toll.
But more than that, Judy
presents a curious picture of wanting, almost desperately, to be liked
as she sings all the great songs that have made her famous.
Last night, for example,
she was obviously nervous and, at times, enough uncertain as to make her
audience a little uncomfortable, too.
Yet when she sang, sometimes
melancholy, sometimes boisterous, age and all its effects vanished into
the background. With numbers like "Come Rain, Come Shine" and "Rockabye
My Baby" she was the confident and youthful Judy Garland, exploding her
enthusiasm on every note.
CHARM IS FELT
In the more haunting songs,
including several Irving Berlin numbers, there was her equally apparent
tenderness that has been so much a part of her makeup.
Always, too, the Garland
charm dominated the scene, together with the slight giggle and the warm
Judy is aided in some of
her numbers with a dancing and singing group called "The 11 Boy Friends,"
who do a wonderful job in supporting the star and dancing the time away
while she is off stage making a change.
Also the other acts add to
the night's enjoyment, particularly comedian Alan King with a delightful
and refreshing routine of suburbia patter that brought down the house.
The show, however, is always
Judy's -- whether she is wearing a modest black chiffon dress and singing
alone in the spotlight, or cavorting and dancing with her boy friends in
scanty shorts and jacket. Or, reminiscent of her famed act at the
Palace, singing her lovely "Over the Rainbow" number while in the grotesque
costume of a dirty-faced clown.
Last night, incidentally,
Judy's "Rainbow" was accompanied by a brief storm of temperament on her
Earlier in the evening she
had complained, good-naturedly, about the noise of the theater's air conditioning
system. But when it came time to sing "Over the Rainbow," which she
does sitting on the stage apron and without benefit of a microphone, she
was distracted by someone talking in the
rear of the theater.
Stopping midway in the number,
she suddenly said, "If that person will shut up, I'll finish my song.
There isn't much more to it."
There was another start and
Then Judy finished the number,
although its magical spell was broken and everybody, and Judy probably
most of all, wished it hadn't ended just that way. Somehow two wrongs
don't ever make a right.
Judy Garland in a Chair After Twisting
Monday, June 3, 1957
A swollen ankle slowed Judy
Garland to a chair and bathrobe last night.
The singer, appearing this
week at the Riviera theater, twisted her ankle in her dressing room just
before the show.
She went on anyway, hobbling
through a few dance steps in the first portion of her hour's performance.
However after a break, supposedly for a costume change, she returned on
stage wearing a bathrobe.
Explaining to the audience
that her ankle "pained too much," the star sang the remaining musical from
a chair on stage.
A spokesman for the theater
said that Miss Garland would go on, as scheduled, tonight. The chair,
he said, was being held in reserve.