“End of the Rainbow” – Phoenix Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ May 11, 2015


Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix Theatre artistic director Michael Barnard worked hard to obtain the local rights to stage “End of the Rainbow,” a biographical expose of Judy Garland during her 1968 London comeback engagement just months before she committed suicide.  But the show is a bland look at this great entertainer and the production, including Jeannie Shubitz unsuccessful attempt to re-create the legendary singer, is disappointing.

We all know the awful situations that confronted Garland based on her bad handling by people who took advantage of her celebrity and talent but who cared little about her.  This end-of-the-life glimpse represents Garland at her worst – depressed, feeling unloved and unappreciated, and surrounded by people who saw nothing but her money-making potential.

So “End of the Rainbow” looks at this great entertainer at her miserable end.  It’s depressing and badly written by Peter Quilter who makes Garland a frail shadow of her former self but, most significantly, Quilter finds nothing new about the entertainer to rekindle an interest in her depressing end.

And Garland was known for her singing and “End of the Rainbow” only allows the performer interpreting Garland to sing just a few of her many famous songs.  There’s boring minutia about the star, her pettiness, her focus on unimportant trivia but nothing pulls audiences into this entertainer or makes you care about her story.  Yes, she was sad and she was used terribly by everyone around her, but this is well known Garland memorabilia.

And Phoenix Theatre didn’t entrust this significant role to a performer strong enough to transform into the singer.  Jeannie Shubitz gets Garland’s vocal and facial expressions right indicating that she studied the personality in films and television, but Shubitz isn’t talented enough to do anything more than a weak interpretation of the singer.  Shubitz is always playing a part and never evolves into Garland.  Her song renditions are fair approximations of Garland’s sound but becoming the sad and depressed singer never happens.

There’s a few other characters introduced including Mickey, played by Caleb Reese, who was Garland’s last husband and manager, and Anthony, played by Jeff Kennedy, who was Garland’s last pianist and the singer’s confessor.  Neither actor is particularly good.

Set in a London hotel room, the play with music has been boringly staged Karla Koshinen who fails to make “End of the Rainbow” dynamic.  If you loved Garland, “End of the Rainbow” doesn’t do the singer justice.  If Garland wasn’t a favorite, “End of the Rainbow” won’t turn you into a fan and may strengthen your already negative impression.  “End of the Rainbow” continues through May 17.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: F

One Response to ““End of the Rainbow” – Phoenix Theatre”

  1. Paul Miller said:

    May 17, 15 at 10:02

    you are nuts!! the performance by Jeannie was outstanding. The audience are the final judges gave her and supporting actors a five minute standing ovation. You must had a bad day. By the way her life was tragic and her demise predictable.