- The Birmingham
Star Joins Irish Party
The already strong Irish
contingent residing on the east side of the city is temporarily increased
this week by the appearance at Aston Hippodrome of a number of talented
Irish entertainers with their songs and lovely dances from the Emerald
Isle. Terry Hall, singing the nostalgic melodies of his native country,
heads the company that was joined this afternoon by none other than America's
own colleen - Judy Garland, who joined the troupe on stage and led them
with her marvelous rendition of "It's a Great Day for the Irish."
Seemingly shy and not prepared the good-natured singer delivered the most
amazing version of "Danny Boy" without any musical accompaniment that I
have ever heard. The audience begged her for more but the gracious
showstopper or stealer as the case may be declined, kissed Hall and returned
the show to it's now all too provincial stars.
Also on the bill, Stan White
and Ann in a spot of comedy, Terry Hall and Eileen O'Hara, each making
worthy contributions in song, but second rate after their special guest.
The show ends on a hilarious note with a typical Irish party joined of
course by Miss Garland who invited everyone to her show at the Birmingham
Over the Rainbow with Judy
On to the stage of the Birmingham
Hippodrome, to the strains of "Over the Rainbow," there walked a plumpish
woman with a friendly manner which matched her friendly face with it's
wide, friendly smile, friendly little nose and merest suggestion of a friendly
There were dimples on cheek
and elbow and a friendly dimple at the very heart of her which had everyone
on friendly terms with one another and most of all with her.
Such was Judy Garland, one
time darling of a thousand cinema screens, but in deliberate pursuance
of an objective and dispassionate mood I endeavoured to forget the fact,
to regard her as an anonymous newcomer to variety's ranks and to decide
if, were she an unknown contributor to a Hippodrome bill, she would be
worthy of her spurs. And Judy Garland won hands down.
For more than half an hour
she went her amiable, carefree and entirely natural way, singing the not
very good songs which had brought her same in another by no means negligible
medium, and interspersing them with the silliest and most engaging chatter.
The microphone was no friend
of hers any more than it is ever a friend of anyone who has claims to being
an artist and a personality in their own right, but she defeated even that
and I verily believe she had the hard face of that abominable mechanical
contrivance smiling back at her before she had finished.
She asked the audience to
elect the songs they would have her sing, and sometimes there were as many
as half a dozen simultaneous nominations. She sang "Rock a Bye" (which
I liked) and of course, by way of grande finale sintimentale - "Over the
Rainbow." Naturally, her fans loved it all, and so did many who were
not her fans, but will doubtless be so hereafter, for it was certainly
a happy garland which was woven for us on a damp Monday evening in the
Midlands "that are sodden and unkind."
The way to the star was not
without it's tribulations for it was strewn with several of the acts which
I most dislike - harmonicas, accordions, performing dogs - but which are
invariably received with approbation. I was ready to add impressionists
to my list until Clifford Stanton came on with his "personalities on parade"
and gave such a rattling good series of impersonations as to cause me to
feel ashamed of harbouring the thought.
A Mature Artist
Behind the welcome that Birmingham
gave to Judy Garland at Birmingham Hippodrome last night lurked the reluctant
thought that Wendy has grown up. It was balanced immediately by the
discovery that here is a mature artist in her own right. Miss Garland
has been lucky. She started in vaudeville when she was - what? -
three and has returned to her first love by way of what has been called
the celluloid medium.
Whatever the vicissitudes
through which she has passed, she remains the child of the music hall,
and as such, appeals still to those who love the palace of variety.
She sings her song - however much you may dislike it - in a big way.
Inevitably, she finished
her act with Over the Rainbow, and the mind goes back to 1939 when all
the world - and Judy Garland - were young. With it all is a supreme
sense of rhythm, a swinging of hips undreamed of, in the halcyon days and,
above all, a contralto voice that some tastes may think could have been
put to better use.
Where Miss Garland scores
is in her appeal to the homelier instincts. For instance, her shoes
hurt her and she kicks them off with wholly feminine relief. She
twists her hair and looks tired - as undoubtedly she is - and everyone
thinks of one of the world sweethearts, ill-used, but still smiling.
Whatever else she does, Judy Garland has chosen a part in music hall that
shall not be taken from her.
In comparison, the rest of
the show is mediocre. If to the epicure the soup is luke-warm and
the fish below par, the main dish is worth waiting for.