“Get Happy: Angela Ingersoll Sings Judy Garland” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – January 31, 2021


The Phoenix Theatre Company, Outdoor Theatre, Courtyard, Central United Methodist Church
Phoenix, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Judy Garland was a dynamic, one-of-a-kind entertainer who had it all – looks, a legendary voice, all the right moves, impeccable stage flourish but most of all a personality like no other performer.  Even when I saw her in her last San Francisco engagement before she took London by storm just before her passing, she was beyond her prime but still something special.

Her earlier brilliance had been tarnished by drugs and liquor but she was still vibrantly unique.  Great performers will always be imitated sometimes brilliantly but often with a bit of camp as foibles get telescoped, and sometimes with less sparkle than the performer being telegraphed.

The Phoenix Theatre Company has “Get Happy: Angela Ingersoll Sings Judy Garland” doing a superb imitation making it special entertainment.  If Garland can’t be with us, Ingersoll gets most of her vocal magic and captures most of her stage sparkle.  In some songs, Ingersoll is right-on but in other songs where she may lack a bit of Garland’s special something, Ingersoll makes every Garland song a special treat because the performer is a fabulous entertainer.

Ingersoll performs Garland’s keystone songs with the great one’s intense stamina and stylish vibrato.  All the mannerisms, the affectations, and the movements are executed in garb reminiscent of Garland’s attire and the show is backed up with a great band that give Garland’s melodies their well-known arrangements.

Presented without intermission, the show entertains marvelously as Ingersoll brings Garland’s pizazz to her song renditions.  Cutesy chatter between the tunes highlights biographical details not widely known about Garland, her movie career, and her live performances.  The song list includes Garland’s signatures like “Over the Rainbow,” “The Trolley Song,” “Smile,” and “Come Rain or Come Shine” among the two dozen tunes on the program. Ingersoll worked with Garland’s son, Joey Luft, and tells an interesting story about Luft’s refusal to let anyone do “Over the Rainbow” although Ingersoll got his permission because she sings it with Garland’s unique stamp.

Ingersoll floats in and out of being Garland as she tells tales about the singer.  It might be better if Ingersoll was always Garland so the singer could describe the challenges of her difficult career development.  Ingersoll’s stories about her own past detract from Garland minutiae.

The show is presented in TPTC’s new outdoor space just north of the company’s indoor theaters makes the cold weather anything but comfortable so dress warmly.  “Get Happy: Angela Ingersoll Sings Judy Garland” is a marvelous reminiscence of a great entertainer performed by an imitator who effectively channels Garland.  The show runs through February 7.  For tickets to “Get Happy Angela Ingersoll Sings Judy Garland,” contact The Phoenix Theatre Company box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: A