As the fall 2011 season begins on Broadway, there is buzz about a new musical coming in spring 2012. Peter Quilter’s End of the Rainbow, a production about the last months of Judy Garland’s life, is poised to begin performances March 19 at a theater to be announced. The show is set in London in 1968 and chronicles her problematic life on and offstage as Garland finishes her final performances in The Smoke. Two-time Oliver Award winner Tracie Bennett will reprise the role of Garland, which she originated in London, on Broadway. End of the Rainbow features several of Garland’s signature songs including “Over the Rainbow” and will make its US debut in January in Minneapolis as it gears up for its Broadway run.
Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Judy Garland was the youngest child of Vaudevillian parents. She started in show business at the tender age of two joining her older sisters on stage as The Gumm Sisters. In 1935, she signed a contract with MGM and in 1937 appeared in the first of a string of successful “backyard musicals” co-starring Mickey Rooney. In 1938, she began filming The Wizard of Oz playing the role of Dorothy, the character she is most known for. Her years at MGM and following her departure from the studio were tumultuous at best. Throughout her life she suffered mental and physical illnesses and battled alcohol and drug addiction. She was married five times and had three children, Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft and Joey Luft. Judy Garland died at age 47 in London. Her legacy remains as a performer, one of the greatest female stars of all time and a gay icon.
“External resource for help with drug addiction in Minnesota: http://www.detox.net/clinics/detox/minnesota/“