Reviews - Feb. 2021
Tavares Community Theater has become a roving show of late, while still constructing their home theater. This time out, they're in Tavares Civic Center - a larger, somewhat better equipped space than the Lake County Museum used for their last show with better acoustics.
"The Property known as Garland" is another biography piece covering the life of everyone's favorite Dorothy, Judy Garland. Her life, anyway you look it, could only be considered a tragedy, ending with her accidental overdose in London in 1969.
The script allows for two actors: Judy herself (Angel Allen in this production), and "Ed" the stage manager (portrayed by Hunter Rice). Ed's role is really the comedy relief; he spends every moment on-stage being pranked by Garland in one way or another, and Rice makes the best lemonade he can under the circumstances of the script. Without Ed, the show would be quite bleak; with Rice's work, he provides the few smiles available.
Allen's efforts shine through the gloom as well - she has a good grasp on Garland's style, and shows her as a frazzled, somewhat lost little girl at what would be her final bow.
For me, the issue was the script itself. While Garland was famous for her girl-next-door looks and roles, you can't escape the facts of her life as less "Hollywood footlights and celebrity", and more afternoon Soap Opera. The show highlights some of the horrors of growing up as a child star in the era (grabby studio owners, long hours for little pay, studios having massive control over every aspect of your life), while downplaying or completely ignoring some of the issues Garland either created herself or was later contradicted on by others who would know and have little reason to lie to protect; for instance, Garland insisted that she and Mickey Rooney were given Amphetamines to stay awake through long shoot days, and Barbiturates to finally be able to go to sleep, while Rooney later denied anything of the sort and said if Garland took them, it was her own choice and efforts in getting the drugs (my paraphrase - CI). And while the script highlights her many marriages, it completely ignores the multiple affairs she engaged in during virtually each marriage.
The production itself worked well - the set by Harold Miner is a wonder of how well he can do in a restricted space. The actors did a fine job, but the script itself insists on painting Judy Garland with the best possible spin and the fuzziest of lenses, while creating the impression there should be a minimum age limit to movie and theater work.
The show runs one more weekend; if you're a Garland fan, by all means go see the show.
Grade: B (some language issues, small children probably wouldn't see the show, but just in case...)