Tracie Bennett will star in the West End premiere of Judy Garland biographical play End Of The Rainbow this November, directed by Laurence Olivier Award-winner Terry Johnson at the Trafalgar Studios.
Peter Quilter’s play was seen at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton earlier this year where Bennett and Johnson first collaborated on the project. Set in 1968, the story is staged in Garland’s hotel room during her famous London Talk Of The Town concerts. With a new young fiancé at her side, Garland battles with her demons as she undertakes the exhausting series of concerts in a bid to reclaim her crown as the greatest talent of her generation. Tragically, within six months she will be dead at the age of just 47, her body wrecked by the legendary amounts of drink and drugs she has consumed since a teenager.
End Of The Rainbow contains a selection of Garland’s most loved songs including The Man That Got Away, Come Rain Or Shine, The Trolley Song and the actress’s iconic solo Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Bennett will be accompanied by a six piece stage band. Also joining the actress on stage will be Hilton McRae as her devoted pianist, Stephen Hagan as her fifth husband-to-be and Robin Browne.
Bennett is a multi-award winning actress whose extensive theatre credits include Johnson’s La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse theatre, Hairspray at the Shaftesbury theatre –for which she was awarded a Laurence Olivier Award – Les Misérables at the Queen’s theatre and High Society at the Open Air theatre. Bennett appeared in Willy Russell’s landmark film Shirley Valentine and has been seen on the small screen in Coronation Street, Dalziel And Pascoe, Casualty and Vincent.
McRae has appeared in The Wizard Of Oz at the Royal Festival Hall, Caroline, Or Change at the National Theatre and has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was recently seen in the title role of Channel 4’s drama The Execution Of Gary Glitter. The actor’s film work includes The Power Of Red, Red Riding Trilogy, Mansfield Park and The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
Hagan’s stage credits include The York Realist (Riverside Studios), Cyrano De Bergerac (Chichester Festival Theatre) and The Giant (Hampstead theatre). He has appeared in numerous television series included The Cut, Mistresses and Clapham Junction. Completing the cast, Browne made his West End debut in the 1969 production of My Little Boy, My Big Girl and appeared in Peter Hall’s American touring production of As You Like It. His most recent London stage appearance was An Enemy Of The People (Arcola theatre).
As well as the much lauded La Cage Aux Folles, Johnson’s recent work includes The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice (Vaudeville theatre), Rain Man (Apollo theatre), One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Gielgud theatre) and Hitchcock Blonde (Royal Court and Lyric theatre).
End Of The Rainbow opens on 22 November, with previews from 15 November and is currently booking to 5 March 2011. Current Trafalgar Studio 1 productions Shirley Valentine and Educating Rita run until 30 October.