Garland of tributes in song

Lorna Luft, who stars in The Songbook of Judy Garland
Lorna Luft, who stars in The Songbook of Judy Garland

The life and music of a Hollywood legend is celebrated in the new show, Judy – The Songbook of Judy Garland, in the company of her daughter, Lorna Luft.

This song and dance spectacular also stars Dancing On Ice winner and X Factor finalist Ray Quinn and West End musical performers Louise Dearman, Rachel Stanley and Darren Bennett.

She was the best mother she knew how to be

Along with dance troupe The Boyfriends, drilled by distinguished choreographer Arlene Phillips, they recreate show-stopping song-and-dance numbers such as I Got Rhythm, The Trolley Song, Get Happy and Over The Rainbow.

The journey through Judy Garland’s career on stage and screen features footage from never-before-seen interviews and scenes from some of her most iconic films including Meet Me In St Louis, Easter Parade, A Star Is Born and The Wizard of Oz.

The new musical from international theatre producer and creative director David King is the only show world-wide to be authorised by the Judy Garland Estate.

It is the presence of Lorna Luft which gives it an authentic feel. The daughter of the former child star and her third husband, Hollywood producer Sidney Luft, and half sister of Liza Minnelli, she was 16 when her mother died of an accidental overdose at the age of 47 in 1969.

Clips of her appearances as a young girl on stage with her mother are shown and Luft also tells a few affectionate stories of their time together.

Judy Garland’s life was a turbulent one with well-documented struggles with drug and alcohol addiction as well as financial problems. Lorna Luft has had her own problems, spending time in rehab in the 1980s and recovering from breast cancer which has now returned and will necessitate further surgery after the tour. She has always insisted Garland was not a tragic figure and has no complaints about her as a parent. “She was the best mother she knew how to be,” she has said.

And the show is all about the songs – almost 30 of them in total, climaxing with Somewhere Over the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz.

Darren Bennett most recently was in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and also includes Merrily We Roll Along, Crazy for You, and Singin’ in the Rain on his cv.

Louise Dearman has previously toured to the Lyceum in Evita and Guys and Dolls and was the first actress to play both the good witch and the bad witch, Glinda and Elphab, in Wicked.

Ray Quinn’s first acting role was on TV’s Brookside. He was runner-up in the X Factor to Leona Lewis in 2006 and released a debut album which went to No 1. He was in musicals Grease, Dirty Dancing, and Legally Blonde and won ITV’s Dancing on Ice in 2009.

Rachel Stanley recently played Betty Haynes in White Christmas in the West End and on tour and had roles in Annie, Crazy for You and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Judy – The Songbook of Judy Garland is at the Lyceum from Monday to Saturday.