We asked Rachel Monamy what it’s like playing Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow …
This is one of the most challenging roles I have played to date. Playing an interesting and complex character is hard at the best of times but playing someone who existed in real life is so much harder. At the very beginning of our rehearsal period, the production team and I discussed the fact that I am not Judy Garland, and therefore cannot expect to be exactly like her.
My challenge has been to study her vocally, her mannerisms, her movement and her idiosyncrasies and try to incorporate some of those comfortably into my performance. The audience needs to get a sense that it is me playing Judy and understanding that I will bring something of my own to the role. Brad, Allen and Kate, as my production team, have been incredibly generous in their allowing me to play with her and settling into something that we are all happy with.
Perhaps the greatest challenge of this show is the script itself. It is a brilliantly constructed work which has been written to incorporate the final six weeks of her life but intertwines much of her history to connect the audience and give them a sense of the reality of her tragic life. The script moves between being uplifting and fun, to downright ripping your heart out; from steady and in control and sometimes manipulative, to drug and alcohol affected. Of course this is all interwoven with the beautiful songs she sang.
Playing the role, I need to be able to communicate this easily to the audience so, to say I am shattered by the end of the two-hour performance is an understatement. I’ve never worked so hard to bring a role to life but of course, that brings with it a sense of satisfaction at the end of it all.
“I’ve always taken ‘The Wizard of Oz’ very seriously, you know. I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I’ve spend my entire life trying to get over it.” Judy Garland