BEYOND THE RAINBOW
Prodigy. Icon. Enigma. Phenomenon. Myth. Legend. Phoenix. World’s Greatest Entertainer.
Judy Garland worked for nearly 45 of her 47 years, made 32 feature films, starred in thirty of her own television shows, appeared in over 1,100 concerts, participated in several hundred radio broadcasts, recorded nearly one hundred singles and over a dozen albums, and sang at countless benefits. The live recording Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall, spent 73 weeks on the Billboard chart, was certified gold, and won the 1961 Grammy for Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal of the Year.
“The concert of the century.”
– The New York Times
Sunday, April 23, 1961. The fervent anticipation at Carnegie Hall is palpable. Little does the audience know that they are shortly to witness “the greatest night in show business history.”
Amongst the sea of over 3000 adoring fans, are fellow stage and screen glitterati…Carol Channing, Lauren Bacall, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, Spencer Tracy, Julie Andrews, Rock Hudson, Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Leonard Bernstein, Anthony Perkins, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Phyllis Newman, Kay Medford, Jerry Herman, Terrence McNally, Phil Silvers, Myrna Loy, and Maurice Chevalier.
The overture begins. Judy emerges looking remarkably healthy, simply and stylishly groomed. The audience explodes with a thundering standing ovation.
Over the next two hours they are entertained with a medley of old staples including “Over the Rainbow” and “The Man That Got Away”, as well as newer delights such as “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
There was nothing excessive. No gaudy costumes, no lavish sets, no flashy dance numbers, no special effects. Just Judy’s exuberant voice and her orchestra.
“Judy Garland’s concert at Carnegie Hall will go down in show business history.”
– Long Island Press
“Last night, the magnetism was circulating from the moment she stepped on stage.”
– New York Post
“Judy Garland today is not only the most electrifying entertainer to watch on the stage since Al Jolson. She has moved beyond talent and beyond fame to become the rarest phenomenon in all show business: part bluebird, part phoenix, she is a legend in her own time”
– Life Magazine
“They were on their feet before the goddess grabbed the microphone, and by the time she had bestowed the first of those warm smiles, they were applauding and screaming “Bravo!” Miss Garland could have probably ended the concert right there and they would still be cheering. The fact is that at least a half dozen times more during the evening the standing ovation, plus the screaming, took place.”
– The New York Times
Beyond The Rainbow by William Randall Beard
Beyond The Rainbow was originally sanctioned by the History Theatre, Inc., in St. Paul, Minnesota, and produced by The Great American History Theatre in the Spring of 2005. A loving nod from Judy’s home state, Minnesota.
Nationally recognized playwright William Randall Beard was commissioned to write the show. “I knew ‘Wizard of Oz’ of course, but that was the extent of it. I did remember having purchased an audio cassette of the Carnegie Hall concert at a yard sale somewhere,” Beard says. “I went back and listened to that and that’s where I got the idea of how to structure the show. It was the best 25 cents I’ve ever spent.”
Beyond The Rainbow follows Judy on a nostalgic roller coaster from her childhood in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, returning to her remarkable resurgence at her 1961 Carnegie Hall concert. Woven into her concert performance are vignettes from her past … her vaudevillian parents, two of her five husbands, MGM mogul – Louis B. Mayer, her co-stars, friends, and critics. Judy’s life is depicted through the show’s 25 songs, including “The Trolley Song,” “Get Happy ,” “That’s Entertainment” and “Over the Rainbow.”
Why did her audience adore her? Beard suggests several reasons. “One was just the raw talent. There was a voice there that was unlike anything ever heard before or since. There was also her ability to invest her whole self in a song. I mean, there was nothing held back, there was no reserve. She was absolutely vulnerable in each performance. And that’s a crazy high wire act. And that vulnerability, I think, engendered the love of the audience.”