Remaining time: 

REVIEW: Judy! Just Perfect

There aren't too many theatres that can boast to being the perfect home for a show. The Arts Theatre can now tick that off of their bucket list. Intimate, with its moody interior representing the very exterior of this piece, Ray Rackham's Judy! could, and I feel most definitely should, have an extended run.

The three Judys (CBS Judy, Palace Judy, and Young Judy) melded together seamlessly. CBS Judy started off with Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries, and from there the production soared, indeed, as if it were over the rainbow. Rackham has paid attention to the small details - the stage didn’t alter, there wasn’t too much going on at any one time that was distracting, it was perfectly set up so that the three incarnations of Judy, and their lives and relationships at the three given points in her lifetime, were the sole focus of attention.

CBS Judy (Helen Sheals) dominated the stage from the moment she arrived. Not-so-quietly confident, eschewing the critics who put her on the pedestal and then, just as swiftly knocked her back off again, gave the standout performance for me. At one point, I was querying myself whether she was actually singing and not miming, the melodic magnificence of her voice so very true to the original. 

Palace Judy (Belinda Wollaston) portrays the altogether more hectic Judy, in the midst of her pill and alcohol addiction. Her imitation was beautifully put together. Palace Judy showed us her vulnerability towards men, and in particular, her relationship with Harry Anton's Sid Luft was exceptional. It could be said that Belinda has the most difficult Judy to portray: Judy in her prime. This was no easy feat and Ms Wollaston succeeded with cool aplomb.

Young Judy was singing her heart out, whilst on the brink of a nervous breakdown. A indomitable mother who could, perhaps, have been living out a withheld dream through her daughter, by adhering to every snap of show business's brittle finger. 'You are too fat, the studio doesn’t like it', 'you are not pretty' - comments that, at such a vulnerable age, most definitely contributed towards the fragility of Judy's life. Lucy Penrose should be applauded for showing such tenacity to this role.

Everyone remembers Judy for Dorothy, clicking her heels and wanting to go home. Rackham allows us to remember Judy, in all of her Garland Glory.

Related news

#WestEndWishList Mean Girls

Posted on | By Ephram Ryan |

Is the West End a carb? 2020 is shaping up to be a big year for Theatreland thanks not only to the announcement that&... Read more

9 to 5: The Musical at the Savoy Theatre in London

Spotlight on Louise Redknapp of 9 to 5 The Musical

Posted on | By Ephram Ryan |

Louise Redknapp is ready to take you back to her Eternal days as she makes her West End stage debut in 9 to 5&nb... Read more

Natasha Gordon’s Nine Night reminds us why it’s important to support new playwrights

Posted on | By Ephram Ryan |

Thousands of stories remain untold by playwrights who dream of seeing the names of their works up in lights. But as p... Read more

Follow us for instant updates and special offers

Sign up to our mailing list and be the first to hear about new West End shows and exclusive ticket discounts. We value your privacy. You can unsubscribe at any time. But we hope you won’t!