Friday, June 7, 2019



End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter.

 Directed by Elena Carapetis. Musical Director Carol Young. Musical Arrangements Andrew McNaughton. Designer Ailsa Paterson. Lighting Designer Mark Pennington. Sound designer. Andrew Howard. Assistant director. Adriana Bonaccurso. Fight choreography. Ruth Fallon. State Theatre South Australia in association wih the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Royalty Theatre. May 31 – June 22 2019

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Helen Dallimore as Judy Garland
Photo by Chris Herzfeld


Fifty years after her death, Judy Garland’s immortality lives on in the magnificent performance of Helen Dallimore as the iconic legend of stage, screen and song  in Peter Quilter’s  End of the Rainbow. Dallimore eerily inhabits Garland in every gesture, every vocal sound, every moment of fragility, petulance ,loving tenderness and human complexity.
Director Elena Carapetis

End of the Rainbow recounts the final month of Garland’s life. Recalling a disastrous concert tour of Melbourne a few years earlier, Garland embarks with some trepidation on a season at London’s Talk of the Town in 1969 The play is set in her suite at the Ritz, where she is accompanied by her fiancé/manager Micky Deans (Nic English) and long time accompanist Anthony Chapman (Stephen Sheehan). The curtain rises on a playful scene between the  middle-aged Garland and  the much younger, handsome Deans. Gradually, as the pressure of the prospect of performing mounts, Garland’s life begins to unravel as drug and alcohol dependency again takes hold. Tension mounts between Chapman and Deans, both vying for Garland’s affection and favour.

 Director Elena Carapetis skillfully guides the play’s unfolding moments with an unerring instinct for the shifting moods. The actors segue perfectly from one emotion to another as Deans and Chapman navigate Garland’s unpredictability. Loving tenderness gives way to dissatisfaction with the suite and argument with the hotel manager. Pleading provokes outrage and sullen defiance. The stage becomes a battleground between the voice of reason and stubborn willfulness. Sheehan beautifully plays the homosexual’s adoration of the gay icon in scenes of gentle devotion and the familiarity of a long time relationship. English’s fiery and frustrated lover flails before Garland’s cantankerous will, and yet in English’s assured performance we see a man driven not by self interest, but by a manager’s sense of responsibility and a lover’s love. End of the Rainbow is tragic in the inevitability of Garland’s fall. Alone in a spot at the end of the show, Dallimore reminds us of the tragic consequences of Garland’s fate with a soulful, moving and prophetic rendition of Dorothy’s innocent question “If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow then why oh why can’t I?” And Ailsa Paterson’s design on the Royalty stage lights up with the colours of the rainbow.

Stephen Sheehan, Helen Dallimore and Nic English
Photo by Chris Herzfeld
It is to the credit of the director and the cast that the dramatic scenes between Dallimore, Sheehan and English are not overshadowed by the classic numbers of Garland’s vast repertoire and Dallimore’s remarkable rendition of the songs. Under the baton of musical director, Carol Young, and her musicians, Eddie Morrison on Upright Bass, aswell as playing the minor roles of Bellboy and BBC Interviewer, Warren Heading on Trumpet, Tom Pulford on Alto and tenor Saxophone and Clarinet, Thomas Voss on tenor Trombone and Steve Todd on Drums.  It is the small combo with the big band sound  and cast us back to the era with songs such as The Bells Are Ringing and Come Rain or Come Shine.

Nic English as Micky Deans and Helen Dallimore as Judy Garland
Photo by Chris Herzfeld

The bells were still ringing in my head with a musical medley of nostalgia as I left the theatre. State Theatre South Australia’s production of End of the Rainbow has delivered a triumphant tribute to a dazzling yet tragic star who continues to light up the colours of our lives. and inspire us to fly beyond the rainbow of our dreams.