Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Feb 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Confessions of a Drama Queen

altActors’ Theatre’s latest offering, ‘The Property Known as Garland,’ cuts to the core of Judy Garland’s character

It takes one ambitious lady—not to mention, talented actor—to tackle the inner workings of a notorious character like Judy Garland. But local thespian Irene Tsouprake Teegardin was up to the task.

Garland, known to most as the wide-eyed Dorothy in Victor Fleming’s 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, lived a life filled with critically acclaimed performances in the film industry and record-breaking concert appearances. However, she also battled insecurities about her appearance—thanks in part to the executives at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)—financial woes, failed marriages, and alcohol and drug abuse. The latter of which, eventually led to her demise at age 47.

But, her legacy lives on, through her children—particularly Liza Minnelli—her onscreen catalogue, and this month, through “The Property Known as Garland.” The two-person play is the latest offering from Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre, known for producing the infamous Eight Tens @ Eight Festival.

Under the direction of Gerry Gerringer, the production is a fictional, behind-the-scenes look at Garland in her most vulnerable state: all alone in her dressing room with nothing but wine, cigarettes, pills, outlandish costumes, and, just maybe, the most terrifying thing of all, her own self-deprecating thoughts, to keep her company.

It is within that dressing room, where she sits in anticipation of her final concert appearance at the Falconre Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark, that we find Garland stripped of the makeup and frills that characterized her time in the spotlight.

Garland’s larger-than-life personality remains steadfast, however, as she relaxes on a Chaise Lounge and bosses around a bumbling concert-hand, Ed (played by Nat Robinson)—whom she affectionately calls “pussycat”—who has been given the unfortunate task of waiting on the singer’s hand and foot.

Though her occasional interactions with Ed provide the audience with an opportunity to witness Garland’s social skills (or lack there of) and tremendous ego, each scene in which the two share the stage—obviously written by Billy Van Zandt with the intention of providing some comic relief—falls flat more often than not.

But perhaps, the reason the slapstick humor feels so forced and disjointed, is because the scenes in which Teegardin is alone on stage are incredibly moving and revealing of Garland’s true character. Each monologue offers more invaluable insight into the complex woman whom so few understood.

It is only after Ed leaves the starlet to herself that Garland shares intimate memories of being “sold like cattle” by MGM as a teenager, life under the thumb of her controlling mother, her adoration for her father and his tragic death, her many marriages, and the intense pressures of being (or living in the shadow of) Dorothy.

Alone on stage, she cries out desperately to the audience. “I don’t understand why they’re so fascinated by me!” “People have been trying to camouflage me all my life.” “If I got fat I couldn’t work.” “I’m not helpless like they think I am.”

And after hearing about how she only consumed chicken soup and water for 13 years to please film executives, it’s hard not to feel bad for the woman.

Sure, washing pills down with alcohol wasn’t the best decision, but it’s the lines between the lines—expertly nuanced by Teegardin—that say the most about Garland.

It is within Teegardin’s long, reflective pauses between monologues, and powerful gazes into the vanity mirror, that audience members can see beyond Garland’s tough exterior, and find a tortured soul who is just looking for something to believe in.

“I’m loved, and fuck anyone who says I’m not,” Garland shouts into the darkness, as if addressing everyone who ever called her a hunchback or said she was too fat. “How many deaths do I have to die for you people?”

Still, the tone of the play shifts towards the end. As Act II comes to a close, Garland—as if relieved by the conclusion of a long, winding therapy session—arrives at the somewhat satisfying conclusion that if given the opportunity, she would not change a thing about her often-turbulent life. And so, just as she is about to step out the door to perform for one last packed house, she leaves the audience with one final, poignant note: “They love me, and I love them.”

Photo: Davis Banta.

“The Property Known as Garland” runs Thursdays-Sundays, now through April 8, at Center Stage, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz. For tickets and information, visit brownpapertickets.com.

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Joanne OConnor, March 29, 2012
Irene always seems to be able to find the path to the inner soul of troubled women. It seems her ability to equally slip from tragic drama to comedy is simply gifted. Oh My, what a gifted lady Santa Cruz has in there midst.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Green Swell

Local surfboard company greens up the industry with an eco-conscious business model

 

Two Fish Bound by a Golden Cord

Until March 20, (Spring Equinox), Earth and her kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human) experience the influence of Pisces, sign of the World Savior. Whereas the task of Aquarius is as world server, the Pisces task is saving the world—tasks given to the two fishes. Pisces never really enters matter, and as the last sign of the zodiac includes all the signs. During Pisces, having gathered all the gifts of the previous 11 signs, it is a good time to prepare for new initiating plans when Aries (sign of beginnings) begins. No wonder Pisces, like Scorpio, is so difficult (both are ruled by Pluto, planet of death, new life, regeneration, transformations). Both signs (with Scorpio drowning in dark and deep waters) find life on Earth a hardship, disorienting (from the spiritual perspective), at times feeling betrayed. Life is a paradox, especially for Pisces. Each zodiacal sign represents and distributes a different phase and facet (12) of the Soul’s diamond light, Pisces is the “Light of Life itself, ending forever the darkness of matter.” It takes two fish to complete this work (creating eventually an extraordinary human being). One fish turned toward the material world (in order to understand matter), the other fish toward the heavenly world. Around the two fish is a silvery cord binding them together. The two fish are forever bound until all of humanity is redeemed (lifted up into the Light). This is the dedication of all world saviors (Buddha, Christ, the NGWS). Thus the sacrifice and suffering experienced by Pisces. Knowing these things about Pisces, let us help them all we can. Sometimes all of humanity is Pisces.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Seal Change

Celtic selkie lore comes alive in dazzling ‘Song of the Sea’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Teresa’s Gourmet Foods

New owners for Santa Cruz’s leading local salsa company

 

What defines a good dive bar?

It’s slightly dirty, and they serve cheap drinks. Stella Celeste, Santa Cruz, Barrista

 

Picchetti Winery

After enjoying its contents, I couldn’t throw away the empty bottle of Picchetti Winery’s Red Table Wine.

 

Happy Birthday, Manny

Manuel’s turns 50, farmers market steel head pairs with Pinot, and a Birichino Malvasia