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Cabaret Review (LA): Judy Garland’s 90th Birthday by Peter Mac at the French Market

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If you’re a legend and it is your 90th birthday, you deserve a party, and in the case of the magnificent Judy Garland, there couldn’t be a more loving or talented host than Peter Mac as Judy. Every time I see him I am impressed by his professionalism, his vast knowledge of Garland, and the care he takes in planning his shows, which he changes on an almost monthly basis. So far I have seen and reviewed “Judy’s Lost Easter Special,” “Judy at Carnegie Hall,” and “Judy and Friends” (where he does Peggy Lee, Tallulah Bankhead, Katherine Hepburn, and others). Now it is Judy’s birthday and on June 9 we celebrated on the next day, complete with many many songs and even a cake.

For this concert Mac shared with us Judy at different stages of her life, reproducing her act down to the hairstyles, songs, and costumes. He began with her stint in Vaudeville as one of the Gumm Sisters, and sang, “Zing went the Strings of My Heart.” After singing “You Made Me Love You” she was signed to a contract at MGM. This also was the beginning of the merry-go-round of drugs that the studio put her on to wake her up and put her to sleep. Nevertheless she most famously did The Wizard of Oz, and Mac celebrated the film with a medley of songs from it and then from some of her other movies, like State Fair, Meet Me in St. Louis, and A Star is Born.

Mac recounted Garland’s days with her various husband, including Minnelli and Luft, and celebrated her kids from these matchups with special songs in their honor (Joey,” “Lorna”). She also made several concert appearances where she introduced and sang to her kids, always the loving mom. Mac commemorated her most famous concert at Carnegie Hall with several songs, “Suwannee” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” etc.

Judy also had a career in movies and on TV. One of her most notable films was Judgment at Nuremburg. When JFK died, much against the wishes of CBS she sang a heartfelt “Battle Hymn of the Republic” as she had been a good friend of the president. Mac then regaled us with tales from her experience making Valley of The Dolls and even sang a song from the movie, “I’ll Plant My Own Tree and Make It Grow.” The concert ended with songs from her gig at the London Palladium including “San Francisco” and of course her signature song “Over the Rainbow.”

Judy Garland died of an accidental drug overdose in London at the age of 47. Her fifth husband, Mickey Dean, discovered her death. She remains in many eyes the greatest entertainer of all time. Happy Birthday Judy and thank you Peter Mac.

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