- Chicago Civic Opera
Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy!
By Ann Marsters - Chicago
A Judy Garland concert is
not an event to be attended with normal anticipation of a rewarding evening
-- for Judy's concerts are a lot more than merely 'normal.' Over
the years, her 'comebacks' have developed into romantic melodramas of heart-tugging
pathos and totally mindless, wildly emotional responses. This is
what we have come to expect. And it happened again last night.
The opening in the Civic
Opera house of Judy's 3-night stand here was really an orgy -- a sentimental
orgy of kissing and hugging and love talk. But no tears, than heaven.
Not even from Judy in the poignantly sweet and triumphant moments that
must have made her feel happier than a newly crowned Miss America.
And lest her vast army of lovers, out there, think she might be weeping
when she daintily tries to dry her eyes with a forefinger, she explains:
"I'm not crying; it's just that my makeup is running." And later:
"The trouble with me is I never perspire... I just sweat. I come
on looking fairly O.K. and wind up looking like the head of the Teamsters
Union." so her lovers laugh and protest. And at one point there
came a loud, clear call from the rear of the house: "You're beautiful!"
"O thank you, bless you.... I'm so glad you're here." "We love
you, Judy." (That was repeated a number of times.) "Don't ever leave!"
and Judy's reply: "You know I wouldn't leave you. I'd die without
you... When my number's up, I want a new one."
It would be pleasant (for
me, at least) to fill a couple of more pages with these rather sticky exchanges
and let it go at that. But alas, alack, and also woe, I must report
that the evening was not entirely filled with sweetness and light.
Indignation, annoyance, puzzlement, and downright anger were being expressed
by patrons at intermission time. Here it was nearly 10 o'clock; they
had sat thru an hour and a half of vaudeville acts. And Judy Garland,
the only one they had come to see, had not yet appeared! "This is
an outrage," said one young man, a friend of mine who should know an outrage
when he sees one. "I didn't buy a $12.50 ticket for THIS!"
A couple of women demanded their money back. I questioned a number
of persons in the lobby and not one of them realized that Judy would not
appear until after the intermission. They had no complaints about
the acts themselves -- the flamenco-dancing juggler Francis Brunn, the
tap-dancing Dunhills, and the impressionist-comedian Dave Frye -- but they
weren't expecting a variety show; they had failed to read the small print
in the ads.
Happily, there was a very
sudden change of mood when the house lights dimmed again and Director Bobby
Cole gave the downbeat for the overture -- a medley of Judy's songs that
swelled into OVER THE RAINBOW. It brought the house to its feet;
people stood on their chairs and all heads turned to the door of aisle
three thru which she would make her entrance. Or would she...?
Twinges of anxiety are never wholly absent where Judy is concerned.
At last she appeared, skipping
down the aisle, beaming, laughing, blowing kisses, wearing a wonder of
a pant suit, all coppery and green, and sparkles of stardust in her short,
short hair. "JUDY!... JUDY!... JUDY!" The applause is the kind
you call deafening. She picks up a hand mike (she looks so tiny standing
there on the huge stage) and begins her first number. "I feel
a song coming on..." for the next hour and a half both Judy Garland and
her audience appeared to be sharing an enchanted sort of happiness.
The familiar numbers she belted out brought the Garland 'Cultists' to their
feet. THE TROLLEY SONG, FOR ME & MY GAL, OLD MAN RIVER, ROCKABYE...
all brought roars of "Bravo... Bravo!" the bit in which the children
got into the act was endearing, if nothing more... Lorna Luft in
a yellow mini-dress was brought on stage by Judy. "Well, this is
it, kid -- sing." And Lorna's delivery of SINGING IN THE RAIN was
a credit to her mother. Her brother, Joey, who shows signs of being
a natural comedian, played a handsome set of drums and then Lorna and Judy
sang a couple of duets hand in hand. Finally the big moment, the
inevitable moment arrived. Judy plops on the floor of the stage,
sits cross-legged, holds the microphone close... "Somewhere... Over
the Rainbow..." What does it matter really if the voice is not what it
was? Who cares if she cannot sustain a soft note because the vocal
apparatus can't provide the proper support? And what sense does it
make for any critic to point out what everyone knows, including Judy?
She has found the happiest possible attitude. She says, "I find that
if I miss a note now and then, people don't mind. I don't even try
to hit all the notes... I just have fun." Judy has a lot going
for her -- her fantastic sense of showmanship, for one thing, and the love
of her fans who would bleed for her, if need be.
3 Hours of Adoration - It's a Love-In
By Michaela Williams
- Chicago News
In the 30-some years of the
Opera House, nobody has put on a performance quite like that by Judy Garland
Thursday night. More "love" was exchanged during the three hour celebration
(there is no better word for it) than the Flower People ever hallucinated
about. One young man, a self-appointed cheer leader, got downright
nasty if the gathering failed to respond. "Aw, come on, gang, let's
hear it!" he would plead turing to the vast house with outstretched arms.
Not that the star needed his services. Fans filled about two-thirds
of the 3,600 seats and spent most of the evening leaping out of them to
demonstrate their affection for Miss Garland. It was more than a
performance; it was a mystical experience. Judy Garland keeps being
reincarnated, but somehow manages to come back every time as herself.
Tension builds for an hour,
during which some old-time show biz acts go through their paces:
Francis Brunn, a French juggler who does athletic Flamenco turns while
bouncing rubber balls off his collar bone, forehead, insteps, etc.; the
Dancing Dunhills, a tap dancing trio, and Dave Frye, a mimic and comedian
with some very funny, mean things to say about politicians from all camps.
They are patiently tolerated.
Finally, just when the balconies
start to erupt with cries of "Where's Judy?" spotlights hit the aisle and
the tiny figure, glittering from head to toe, makes her way down to the
stage, like a minuscule de Gaulle, shaking hands, being kissed and touched
as she goes, saying quietly, "It's so nice to see you." The band
plays a medley... as the applause continues. Five minutes later,
she starts into "It's Almost Like Being In Love," and there is a murmur
of surprise that the voice can still belt out a song like nobody else,
never mind the cracks or the pitch. The repertoire is changeless,
except for two new songs, for which she apologizes. "Old Man River,"
"That's Entertainment," forgotten words and all, "Just in Time."...
she talks with the audience, wrestles with the mike cord, reaches for a
glass of something with a crack about not letting down the image.
She drags out a huge French provincial bar stool and climbs on it to sing,
like Alice maneuvering the toadstool when she was on her small pill.
Finally she is spelled by
daughter Lorna, a long-stemmed blond who is full of ingenuous charm and
sings off key, and Joey, who is inoffensively cute and plays the drums
as well as anybody's little brother. Mainly what they do is more
loving, kissing and caring. Then Judy sings some more songs, and
the applause gets longer between each one. Actually, except perhaps
for a round of "Chicago" and "Over the Rainbow," Judy Garland wouldn't
have to sing. the fact is that she is there at all, and looking great,
is unnaturally stimulating.
It's more than just a lyric
when she goes into "What Now My Love?"... No one would care, no one would
cry, if I should live -- or die. When my number's up, I want a new
So, Judy, carry on.
Give the lie to mortality. If anybody can live forever, it's going
to be you.
Judy's Fans Love Her Despite Voice Decline
By William Leonard -
The question is: How
many years of a person's life is one supposed to spend in worrying about
whether or not Judy Garland will find happiness somewhere over the rainbow?
To those who are willing to put in a lifetime of fretting over the problem,
one of her appearances like last night's at the Civic Opera house is an
event of major importance. It is not really a song recital, for not
even the most ardent of Judy's fans would claim that there is anything
left of her voice. But it is a love match between an old pro and
Judy forces her way down
aisle 3 from the back of the house, thru a mob that shoves and tussles
in an effort to touch her. She climbs a special stairway across the
orchestra pit to the stage, then the crowd sounds like the teen-agers used
to when the Beatles move into site. Gaudy to the eye in a sequined
pants suit of orange-gold, with more sequins in her hair, she throws kisses
by the dozens to everyone in every balcony. She sits on the top step
and conducts a press conference. When she admits brightly that it's
good to be back in Chicago, they howl: "It's good to have you back in Chicago,"
and applaud the sally. When she wrestles a stool on and off, they
applaud, when she sits down they applaud. When she stand up they
applaud. When she lies down on her back they applaud. When
she sings flatter than a fried egg, they applaud. When she takes
a sip of water they applaud.
The low notes, always husky
, are brittle now. The top notes are an amplified howl. But
they applaud. They start applauding at the first note, and stand
to applaud some more at the last note. Never has such a mutual admiration
society convened in the Civic Opera house. There is such a constant
outburst of camera flash bulbs that one could almost read this program
by their light, if there were programs. There aren't, because Judy
gives the appearance of making it up as she goes along. She toys
with her idolators and teases them, makes them all but grovel at the end
of the show for almost a quarter of an hour before she does what they knew
she just had to do eventually, "Over the Rainbow." It isn't song,
but it's show biz... Judy and her pals are scheduled to repeat the
happening thru Saturday night.