Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
The other elements in End of the Rainbow take a backseat to Sexton's Garland, but the three actors who join her onstage are also quite good. And if the play doesn't always hold up to close scrutiny, director Keven Connors keeps things moving at a good pace, with ultimately fine results, especially in the musical portions. Thanks to scenic designer Jordan Janota and costume designer Diane Vanderkroef's work, it looks great, with Garland's costumes being absolutely perfect.
End of the Rainbow opens with Judy married to her last husband, Mickey Deans (the nicely seedy Luke Darnell), as she is about to take on The Talk of the Town in London in 1968 for a series of concerts. Accompanying Garland is Anthony, her (fictional) musical director (played as an actor and a musician by Thomas Conroy, who is sympathetic and touching in the role). The plot mainly contains scenes of Garland in her hotel room and also performing onstage. The playing area of Music Theatre of Connecticut is quite intimate, and director Connors certainly makes the most of it, to really draw the audience in.
From the moment she takes the stage, Coleen Sexton truly becomes Judy Garland. There is the terrific sense of humor Garland conveyed, as well as the moments of desperation when the star will do anything for a drink or a pill. Still, thanks to Sexton's expertise, End of the Rainbow doesn't ever feel like a cheap soap opera; instead, she gives a nuanced performance that can be quite riveting and she helps transform the show into a fascinating, though highly fictionalized, version of Garland near the end of her life.
In assorted small roles, Matt Densky also does quite well and there is an excellent live band onstage for the musical performances. The lighting design by Michael Blagys is also exemplary. All in all, End of the Rainbow is a great play for Music Theatre of Connecticut to be doing, with the intimacy of the theatre and a star in the lead role providing the power of the show.
End of the Rainbow continues performances at Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk, CT through April 23, 2017. For tickets, please visit www.mtcmainstage.org or call the box office at 203-454-3883. .