Rufus Wainwright re-creates legendary Judy Garland concert
June 16 2006 12:00 AM ET
singer Rufus Wainwright bridged musical generations on
Wednesday with a daring re-creation of Judy Garland's
legendary 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall. Wainwright
took the stage to thunderous applause from the sellout
crowd and launched straight into the first number,
"When You're Smiling."
crooner said, "We're not in Kansas anymore, we're in New
York"—a play on the memorable line from the Wizard
of Oz movie, which launched Garland's career.
Backed by a 40-piece orchestra, Wainwright then restaged the
monumental concert often called the greatest single night in
album, Judy at Carnegie Hall, won two Grammys,
including Album of the Year, and became her
best-selling record, made when she was 39. Wednesday's show
was the first of a sold-out two-night run.
Among some two
dozen numbers were classics such as "Do It Again,"
"That's Entertainment!" and "Puttin' on the Ritz." But it
was the songs most closely associated with
Garland—"San Francisco," "The Man That Got
Away," "The Trolley Song," "Swanee," "Chicago," and
her signature, "Over the Rainbow," that drew the
dreamy, reedy tenor marked an arresting counterpoint to
Garland's throaty belting. Wainwright, like Garland, made it
a family affair. He performed with his mother, Kate
McGarrigle, his sister Martha, and Garland's daughter
Lorna Luft, who appeared for a duet rendition of
"After You've Gone." Liza Minnelli, Garland's other
daughter, did not appear onstage.
often of Garland's influence during the performance,
which was filmed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes. "When
I was a kid I wanted to be Dorothy," he said. He
cracked at one point, "I'm going to speak now, because
on the album Judy speaks here." When a light
malfunctioned, he joked, "This didn't happen in the
Carnegie Hall concert was one of several comebacks
throughout her troubled life, which ended with her
death in 1969 at 47. Not long before the show she had
nearly died from hepatitis and was told her career was
over. The Carnegie Hall performance defied that prognosis
and spawned a 16-city U.S. tour and years of sold-out
Stars in the
audience 45 years ago included Rock Hudson, Richard Burton,
Julie Andrews, and Henry Fonda. On Wednesday, Sarah Jessica
Parker, Joel Gray, director John Waters, Gina Gershon,
and designer Patricia Field were among the fans who
gave Wainwright several standing ovations.
"I did feel a
real connection to Judy Garland and did really commune
with her," Wainwright said at the show's end. It was clear
from the ecstatic response that the thousands who
attended felt the same way. (Chris Michaud, Reuters)
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