Judy Garland is set to make a spectacular comeback. Ray Rackham’s blistering musical, Through The Mill, which charts Judy’s rise to fame, opens at the Southwark Playhouse next week after proving a smash hit last year.
Set primarily during the filming of ‘The Judy Garland Show’ in 1963, Through the Mill chronicles the production difficulties behind the scenes, intercut with the young Judy Garland’s rise to fame through MGM in the 1930s, and her triumphant sell-out concert engagement in the early 1950s.
Illustrating why Judy Garland was, and continues to be, one of the great legends of show business history, Through the Mill goes beyond the rainbow, and explores the life of a woman destined for greatness; as loved today as she was when she first made her way along the yellow brick road.
For both audiences new to Garland’s extensive back catalogue in the world of film and music, as well as the true Judy aficionado, here is an honest, entertaining and moving portrait of a legend; as courageous, determined, sincere and funny as she was tragic.
Three actresses from the show’s original run will once again portray Judy Garland at three pivotal stages in her life – Helen Sheals (CBS Judy), Belinda Wollaston (Palace Judy) and Lucy Penrose (Young Judy).
They will be joined by a further cast of nine actor-musicians, playing a variety of historical figures who featured heavily in Garland’s biography.
The remaining Southwark Playhouse cast comprises entirely of original cast members, returning to reprise the roles they originated in the play’s acclaimed world premiere last December at London Theatre Workshop.
West End veteran, Don Cotter (Snoopy the Musical, Duchess Theatre and No Sex Please, We’re British, Garrick) is returning to play MGM mogul, L.B. Mayer; Rob Carter (Fresh Meat and Peep Show, Channel 4) returns to play Hunt Stromberg Jr.; Amanda Bailey (Antigone, King’s Head) and Joe Shefer (Laramie Project, London Theatre Workshop) will play Garland’s parents Ethel and Frank Gumm; Tom Reade is Garland’s arranger and lifelong friend Roger Edens; and Harry Anton returns to play Garland’s longest serving husband, Sidney Luft.
The rest of the company includes: Carmella Brown; Chris McGuigan and Perry Meadowcroft.
The actor-musician company will make up the onstage Judy Garland band, accompanying the three actresses playing Judy Garland on a number of hit songs, including The Trolley Song, The Man That Got Way and Over the Rainbow.
The show features a hit list of Judy Garland favourites, including The Trolley Song, The Man That Got Away and Over the Rainbow, with a sixteen strong company of actor musicians, and a cast headed by three actresses playing the legend herself.
Through The Mill is written and directed by Ray Rackham who is the artistic director of London Theatre Workshop.
Through The Mill runs at the Southwark Playhouse from July 6 – July 30.