By Jordan Zeitler
Although Judy Garland has been gone for almost 50 years, her spirit continues to live on in the hearts of fans all around the world. Nowhere as much, though, as it does in the vessel of Angela Ingersoll.
In her touring concert, “Judy Garland: Come Rain or Come Shine,” Ingersoll leaves you wanting more. The way she embodies the late entertainer is not just reminiscent of the timeless star, but a show of perfection.
Ingersoll has been performing since she was 5 years old, stunning people with her big voice, even as a little girl. She became a fan of Garland much like the rest of us, watching “The Wizard of Oz.” Then, her uncle introduced her to the star’s chart-topping 1961 live album, “Judy at Carnegie Hall,” which won five Grammys, and her passion grew. Now, she spends most of her time sharing her love for Garland, and loving every moment.
Rather than just interpreting Judy on stage, Ingersoll takes the opportunity to share heart-warming and heart-wrenching stories about the entertainer’s tumultuous and tragic life. She learned intimate details by spending time with Judy’s son, Joey Luft, who gave permission to talk about the heartbreak and happiness of his mother.
Born Frances Ethel Gumm, Garland was thrust into show business at age 2 by her mother. She landed at MGM when she was 13, her big break being Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” Over the next 15 years, she made over two dozen films.
Her movie career slowed after her contract wasn’t renewed in 1950, but “A Star Is Born” in 1954 earned her an Oscar nomination, as did “Judgment at Nuremburg” in 1961. Her self-titled TV series 1963-64 was Emmy nominated.
She spent the 1950s and 1960s singing at nightclubs and shows, including acclaimed concerts at the London Palladium, Carnegie Hall and Las Vegas.
Unfortunately, Judy struggled with addiction, and her inner demons shortened her life. Ingersoll gets emotional relating these haunting stories.
Then she followed with a song, and if you closed your eyes, you’d think you were listening to the beloved icon.
Ingersoll’s intimate performance gave the audience an opportunity to share their memories. One person recalled Garland’s final appearance in St. Louis near the end of her life. The crowd went wild when she sang, “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and then the star collapsed on stage. Only one song was all she could muster in her frail condition.
Garland died at age 47 on June 22, 1969. But her legend has grown ever since.
Ingersoll’s show gives further luster to the bright star, singing such favorites as “Get Happy” and “Come Rain or Shine,” but her triumph was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” leaving the audience reaching for tissues.
I have not seen a more convincing and entertaining portrayal of an American icon.
Angela Ingersoll performed “Judy Garland: Come Rain or Come Shine” as part of the Artists Lounge Live series at the Playhouse @ Westport April 12-15. She will return to St. Louis to star in Max and Louie Production’s “End of the Rainbow” June 21-July 1 at The Grandel Theatre.