Surrender Dorothy, and shame on festival-goers!
KC Fringe Festival
Michelle Stelting and Darin Stelting play Judy Garland and William Inge, along with other characters connected with their lives. Set in a rehab facility, Judy is telling about her life so Bill can write her story. During the conversation Bill also tells about some of his life. The two take on different characters to act out some incidents from their pasts.
Michelle captures not just Judy’s essence but also her vocal patterns and phrasing. She is absolutely believable as Judy Garland. A terrific impersonation.
There are some choice lines scattered throughout. The audience enjoyed references to Kansas. Bill utters a particularly poignant one: What if I don’t want what I want. Demons are hard to fight, and nearly impossible if you love the demons. That dilemma haunted both of them. But the stunning insight came at the very end in a new perspective on Dorothy’s famous line, There’s no place like home. Original and thought-provoking discussion had us talking all the way . . . well, home.
I especially liked one bit of blocking when the make-up cape became the bedsheet. That was a very fluid scene change. I also liked Bill’s over-the-top facial expression as he mimicked the shocked mother.
The two are very good at covering costume changes. If Bill is changing costume, Judy is entertaining us with a song that illustrates the topic or time of her life. Judy changes while Bill tells a story. We never have to wait for someone to get ready for another character.
But overall this production falls short of the rainbow. The script is not as creative and insightful as I would like. The props are too big or awkward and the tables are too small. The actors had to fight with setting things down, and were not smooth in using the props. Music was too loud when the actors were talking rather than singing. I had the uncomfortable feeling that lines were not solid.
However, I do salute them for being troupers in the face of difficult circumstances. The crowd outside the theater was so noisy that I could hear specific conversations, and a person outside who yelled at them to stay quiet nearly drowned out our actors. Then a person or people came into the theater and clambered noisily up the stairs. And finally to my disgust people left the theater, and not just in one group. I was very angry about the disruption to the actors on stage. But they carried on as though nothing had happened. Bravo for them. Boo for those who were so thoughtless.