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Cabaret Review (LA): Judy at Carnegie Hall by Peter Mac at the French Market

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In 1961 Judy Garland gave probably her most memorable concert in New York City at the famed Carnegie Hall. Her concerts had been going extremely well on her European tour so her record company wanted to capture that energy on a recording. The result was a double album that spent 73 weeks on the Billboard chart, including 13 weeks at number one, and went on to win four Grammy Awards. The album was also chosen by the Library of Congress as one of 50 recordings to be added to the National Recording Registry. The album has never been out of print.

I had heard Rufus Wainwright attempt to sing all the songs (26 but more if you counted the medleys) at the Hollywood Bowl. The effort seemed to exhaust him (understandably) and he had to strain on many of the notes. A bold attempt given the notoriety of the album, but Peter Mac, the premiere tribute artist doing Judy Garland, performed all the songs (OK, he broke a sweat) last weekend at the new venue at the French Market to a packed room. He is amazing as Judy. Margaret O’Brien, Judy’s little sister in Meet Me in St. Louis, was quoted as saying, “I was here tonight to see Peter Mac as Judy. It’s the most wonderful show and I had a wonderful time. It’s like being back with Judy. He is absolutely fantastic.”

The secret to Peter Mac’s success is, first, his real love of the singer he is paying tribute to. He doesn’t present a negative picture but gives us Judy at her best. He is Judy from the inside out. He has a terrific voice and has a trunk full of shows he presents every four weeks. His portrayal is seductive and totally captivating. He is sexy, funny, passionate, and authentic. Bryan Miller accompanies him on the piano with Kevin Widener on percussion. D. J. Schaefer, a performer in his own right, is the producer.

Peter’s is a talent to be relished and seen many times. He is getting a bigger and better venue inside the French Market in a few months. But next he is doing Judy and Company, where he has Judy bring along some friends, Tallulah Bankhead, Peggy Lee, Mae West, and Liza Minnelli. In all, he can do 17 separate women, including Judy at different ages. Catch this act, you won’t be disappointed.

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