'Rainbow' a torrid portrait of Garland extremes
End of the Rainbow: Court Theatre. By Peter Quilter. Presented by Court Theatre. 1 February.
It was the end of the rainbow, sure enough, at the Court Theatre on Saturday night.
We watched the fading of the light in this compelling story of Judy Garland's decline from supreme performer to needy, booze-addled, pill-popping addict, desperate for love and nowhere to go but down.
A highly charged and torrid account, the End of the Rainbow pulls you this way and that as you see Garland in all her glory and all her misery, in turns majestic and pathetic, glorious and shameful.
How good are the great, you think, yet how are the mighty fallen.
And yes, before you ask, at the end of this rainbow there is a little pot of gold and it's called Eilish Moran, for if Garland was the superlative interpreter of song, Moran is one of New Zealand's finest interpreters of character.
Her intuitive and instinctive grasp of this role, underpinned with superb acting technique and theatre intelligence, makes her portrayal one both to admire and to remember, as she acts and sings with dazzling force.
Kevin Keys, as Garland's fiance Mickey Deans, and Roy Snow, as her pianist Anthony Chapman, support Moran with convincing characterisations which enhance the truthfulness of the story.
Musical director Richard Marrett has pulled out all the stops here to bring Garland's songs to life and director Yvonne Martin's sure hand raises up the production to another level.
End of the Rainbow is a sad tale but has many funny moments, interspersed with splendid music and singing when the hotel set transforms into London's Talk of the Town.
The excitement generated by this production is palpable.
It is one to see and one to hear.