EXCLUSIVE: Chasing Rainbows: The Road To Oz, a new Judy Garland bio-musical that got an industry presentation in New York last week, has received the rare endorsement of Garland’s daughter Liza Minnelli and the Garland Estate.
“My mother said that her biography is in her music, and now a talented creative team is using that music to tell the story of her early years and her extraordinary rise to fame,” Minnelli said in an exclusive statement to Deadline. “I’m grateful and happy they’re telling the fascinating story of her early history.”
Deadline also has an exclusive sneak peek at a new Chasing Rainbows promo – a “remix” video of the production’s take on “Got a Pair of New Shoes,” a song Garland performed in Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry, her 1937 film with Mickey Rooney. Watch it below.
The musical – being performed in a concert version at New York’s National Arts Club tonight – is the first stage, film or television property about the life of Judy Garland to receive the endorsement of Garland’s Estate, according to estate spokesman Garry Kief, President and CEO of Stiletto Entertainment, who serves as Trustee of the Judy Garland Heirs Trust.
Conceived and created by Tina Marie Casamento, the show chronicles Garlands early years, from her vaudeville sister act through her career-making win at MGM of the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. The production uses the Sony Music/Feist Robbins catalog of Garland-associated songs including “Over the Rainbow,” “You Made Me Love You,” “Everybody Sing,” “In Between” and “Dear Mr. Gable,” among others.
The book is by Marc Acito (who wrote the George Takei bio-musical Allegiance), with musical adaptation by David Libby and music direction by Larry Yurman. Garland historian John Fricke is as a production consultant, and Tootsie choreographer Denis Jones is on board to direct.
Chasing Rainbows is produced by Richard Winkler, Probo Productions and Chasing Rainbows Productions LLC.
Last Thursday, an industry presentation was staged in New York (the long-planned presentation, according to a spokesperson for the show, had the approval of Actors’ Equity; the union last week called for a strike of the development labs and workshops that its members sometimes take part in).
Chasing Rainbows received earlier developmental productions at Flat Rock Playhouse in North Carolina, and Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut. Actress Ruby Rakos (Billy Elliot), who played Frances Gumm/Judy Garland in the Flat Rock and Goodspeed stagings, remains with the New York-bound production. Other principal roles in the presentation were played by Andrew Keenan-Bolger as Mickey Rooney, Daniel Reichard as Frank Gumm, Sally Wilfert as Ethel Gumm, Karen Mason as Kay Koverman, Michael McCormick as L.B. Mayer, Colin Hanlon as Roger Edens, Samantha Joy Pearlman as Mary Jane Gumm, Andrea Laxton as Virginia Gumm, Violet Tinnirello as Shirley Temple, Sophie Knapp as Baby Frances Gumm, and Christina Maxwell as Edna Mae Durbin.
Here’s the new video for “Got a Pair of New Shoes,” directed by Barclay DeVeau & Chasing Rainbows director Jones.