Friday, 4 March 2016

Review: End of the Rainbow (UK Tour) at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

End of the Rainbow (UK Tour)
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 3rd March 2016

Peter Quilter's powerful musical drama End of the Rainbow has returned to the UK with an all-new touring production helmed by Daniel Buckroyd. The deeply saddening plot revolves around the legendary Judy Garland in the months leading up to her death in the late 60s, aged 47.

Set in London where Garland was preparing for a five-week run at The Talk of the Town, we see just how far the star's life had spiraled out of control with severe drink and drug addictions. In context musical performances break up scenes with a neat and compact touring set by David Shields. 

This was my first time seeing the show; of course I heard lots of whispers about Tracie Bennett who starred as Garland in End of the Rainbow's West End and Broadway runs, but Lisa Maxwell won over the reserved audience with many rising to their feet as she took her final bow.

I thought it took time for Maxwell's performance to settle; at first the former Loose Women panelist seemed a little nervous with her accent slipping once or twice, but she eventually eased in and acted her way through the show superbly. 

The second act is far stronger than the first, with Maxwell stepping forward and owning the stage. Supporting cast members Sam Attwater and Gary Wilmot both give strong performances as Garland's toyboy fiancĂ© Mickey and kind-heated pianist Anthony.

Amongst the sadness, it's nice to hear some of Garland's most popular numbers such as 'For Me and My Gal', 'The Trolley Song' and 'Come Rain or Come Shine' as well as a heartbreaking rendition of 'Over the Rainbow' which ends the show. The music is timeless and Maxwell offers a good impersonation of Garland's unique vocal qualities. 

It was interesting to overhear lots of audience members saying "It wasn't what I was expecting but very good" after the show. It's true, End of the Rainbow is a different kind of show - it's an intimate piece which one day would be perfectly suited to a small off-West End house. I wasn't swept off my feet, but enjoyed the show - it's certainly worth a look.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

End of the Rainbow runs at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre to 5th March 2016. The show tours the UK until July 2016. Please visit for further information, full tour dates and tickets.

Photo Credit:  Pamela Raith 

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