JUDY Excerpts: (Walter is the TV Emcee)
(rises and walks to audience. He’s quite excited) Last week, on the evening of April 23rd, 1961… 3,165 privileged people packed the world-famous Carnegie Hall in NYC beyond its capacity, primed to witness what was arguably the greatest night of music in show business history. The audience filed in with an almost religious anticipation; described as the musical equivalent of a Billy Graham revival. By the time the conductor raised his baton for the overture, the wildly applauding crowd was in a transport of ecstasy!
Whoa. Down boy, down boy. I'm not the only one who needs a drink, William.
(looks back) ...Walter….
Of that singular performance, a NY Times columnist wrote…....’after Judy’s final exit, two and a half hours after her first note, the audience refused to leave. It was a shame they had to pay for their seats; they were never in them! Their eyes were riveted on an empty stage. They understood Judy had bestowed upon them every fragment of the Garland essence. 3,000 people had become joined together in an exalted state. They were NOT about to let go’.
Miss Garland, can you tell us what happened next?
Well… this is kind of embarrassing, you know. No one backstage quite knew what to do. I walked back onstage. Complete silence. Funereal silence, you know. I stared at the orchestra. I stared at Mort Lindsey. I stared at the audience. They stared right back. I said somewhat meekly… “we’re out of music”.
(laughs) A man yelled from the balcony… “just stand there!”
Your older sisters Mary Jane and Dorothy Gumm were talented. They were troupers. But soon Frances, or “Babe” - as you were nicknamed - commanded all the attention. You acted and looked like any other preadolescent ... but you sounded like ... well, a chanteuse.
I was born in a trunk. (Rises) (walks to audience down center) I was raised in a vaudeville family. We had lunch at breakfast... dinner at lunch... and a show at dinner. That's what we did. It was the only life we knew. We performed.
Oh, hell, Warren, I’ve got to sing!
Walter exits. (sofa exits. Dancers enter. They undo the Velcro long skirt in flourish to reveal the classic Get Happy costume. Dancer hands her the fedora).
JUDY (to downstage C to audience)
I’m SO excited. My goodness. Thank you. Thank you. I must tell you, I just got back, well actually 3 months ago, just got back from Europe and I did a tour of the Continent. And I worked in Paris. I had never worked in Paris before. And I have a friend in Paris…a woman who is so chic…she’s just SO chic, you can’t stand it.
And she’s a darling, marvelous woman…and she’s just so chic! Anyway, she said ‘you must go to my hairdresser, because obviously, you need somebody’. HA!
She arranged for me to go this marvelous Parisian fellow who is just supposed to be the end, you know. And he came in and took one look at me…and he was quite discouraged. And he said the first thing you must do is look nothing, nothing like Judy Garland, nothing like yourself!
And I said, well, don’t you think I should look a little like myself? And he said, ‘No No…that would be disastrous. We must change you completely’.
So, the night of the performance he comes backstage and he had about 9 assistants, you know. And they clipped…and my hair just got taller and taller…and really it was about up to here, you know…and great big things out here…in my day you used to call them spit curls. And I looked very strange. I looked like an overweight Balenciaga model. And I came out on stage for the concert that night…I walked out balancing my hair. Ha.
And when I work, I get very warm, as you can see. I get so hot. And I started to sing and I started to get warm. And my hair started to fall. And it got lower and lower and, I just mean…it looked Neanderthal. The lacquer was running down my face. It was terrible.
Judy back to sofa with Walter as Walter enters
I will never forget…I was sitting by myself at one of Mama’s parties. I was about eight. I was nursing a Coca-Cola. A columnist sat down beside me and said, ‘Lisa, I want to tell you something’… I looked up at him and said “My name is Liza, with a Z!” He looked at me. He apologized. (laughs).
He told me he saw Al Jolson sing live back in the day. What does ‘back in the day’ mean?’ He smiled and went on. ‘In the dark ages, before TV, Al Jolson was called “The World’s Greatest Entertainer”. I have seen your mother sing live. There WAS Al Jolson. There IS Judy Garland. The torch has been passed’.
(steps forward) My father gave me my dreams; my mother gave me my drive. Mama…this is for you. (to “Rock-A-Bye)
(Frank has entered. As DEAN enters with drink in hand) and Mr. Dean Martin!!!!!
peers at audience
How’d all these people get in my living room?
JUDY stands in between FRANK and DEAN, takes them both by the arm and they begin to walk to sofa. Dean espies bar and he takes shortcut
Mr. Sinatra, you were under contract with MGM as well?
My first movie was called “Reveille with Beverly” and…
...and Frank stayed with Beverly every night to make sure she made reveille. I know Beverly. She’s been on more laps than a napkin.
Judy was starring on another sound stage on the lot in…
“Girl Crazy”, with music by George Gershwin.
And Frank went crazy with a couple a’ them as well. The chorus girls were great (slurring) frater…frater…
Yeah, right. At MGM that was defined as getting social without your clothes on!
Hollywood, this city of Oz devised dreams the way Detroit assembled autos and DuPont spun nylon. And yet Judy, to you, Hollywood may very well have been an evil parody of the land of Oz. MGM had absolute control over employees. The system was something quite different from what the public saw as “glamour”. The system…
…Call it by its rightful name: indentured servitude. I was personal property stamped with Leo The Lion right here (hand to forehead). In those days, Mickey and I worked 12 hours a day, six days a week. Most of the time we were shooting one movie in the morning and rehearsing for the next one in the afternoon.
To MGM you and your fellow child actors were commodities. Already in your early teens you suffered your most irrevocable loss…your childhood.
Everyone told me what to do, where to go, how to act. I never went to a prom.
MGM employed a studio Dr. Feelgood; the resident drug dispenser.
ONE Dr. Feelgood? Ha. Let’s put it this way. MGM had a lot of actors and technical staff who were on 14 hour a day schedules. The so-called doctors were kept busy.
Amphetamines were given out like penny candy to both increase your energy and suppress appetite. But “speed” would not let Judy sleep. She had natural insomnia. MGM, in league with your mother Ethel, had an answer...barbiturates...sleeping pills. No one knew the long-term side effects, but for the co-conspirators, it was a miracle.
Silence. Judy gets up slowly and walks C. Special on her
Ethel called them my “vitamins.” If someone criticized her about it, she would quickly put them in their place. (to audience) “I’ve got to keep my little girl going.”
Walter, still on sofa, gets up. Special on him
Judy, you were given the whole rainbow of little colored pills…innocently skipping down your own yellow brick road into the tangled forest of addiction. By the age of 15, before The Andy Hardy series, before “The Wizard Of Oz”, Judy Garland was a drug addict. You didn’t know it. And those who did, didn’t care as long as the money kept rolling in.
(Awkward silence. For the first time there is a personal interaction between Walter and Judy)
Judy, all of us have given our hearts to you so many times. You now have permanent possession.
Liza to SL and appears in special
Mothers should be guardians, right? They should be defenders, safeguards against the world. Ethel Gumm saw in Mama her meal ticket…wrapped in chaser lights. To Ethel Gumm, her daughter was Judy Garland, the product. Uppers for breakfast and downers for dinner. If you had a child with a voice of liquid magic, wouldn’t you be delirious over her gifts?
Trunk is glided out downstage C, festooned with posters from movies. Judy sits. Rainbow music begins
When Dorothy Gale entered Oz, Judy Garland entered immortality. “The Wizard Of Oz” speaks to your feelings, not to your intellect. It comforts and inspires. Children identify with Dorothy’s fears. Adults... with her dreams. A young girl is sent down a perilous path. Along the way, she must slay wicked witches and stand up to mighty wizards.
Dorothy’s journey to Oz is one of self-discovery, a spiritual passage from adolescence to adulthood. Her destiny is hers to determine. No one else can do it for her. She teaches all of us that we can confront our fears - either real or imagined - and determine our own future.
In Oz, we are made to see all the fantastic adventures through Dorothy’s wide and innocent eyes. Dorothy conquered the demons that Judy could not. .
And in the end, the traveled little girl understands...
...If I ever go looking for my hearts desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with. (to audience). Is that right? (to “Rainbow”)
Available for tour OR licensing to your theatre!