Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Dec 20th
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

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire