Babes in Hollywood: The Music of Garland and Rooney
-is Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL
Created by David Grapes
Directed and Choreographed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Mickey Rooney’s an odd target for a musical revue; I always saw him as more of a comic than a singer. But he’s got a few songs under his belt, even if they’re not the distinctive hits his partner Judy Garland produced. Garland gets the street cred; she sang her way through WW2 while Mickey went off and soldiered. He may have served his county, but it cost him the leading man roles perhaps he deserved.
Tonight we sing our way through a pack of midcentury hits and standards starting at 1952 standard “That’s Entertainment.” “Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe” sets us in the railroad-driven vaudeville days that was already fading when Rooney and Garland made their splash in the movie biz. As our hostess Heather “Hug Me” Alexander telegraphs up front “You WILL know all these songs.” And we do, at least those of us old enough to remember using manual typewriters without irony. The big numbers in Act One include ” Over the Rainbow” By Woman 1 (Lea Marinelli) “Be A Clown (Woman 2- Mellissa Minyard and Man 1 Gavin Waters) and “Couple of Swells” (Man 2 – Ken Tibeau and Woman 1).
Act Two looks at the sadder, post-war side of these careers. Garland ended up prematurely dead, leaving behind an impressive singing career and the starring role in “Wizard of Oz.” Rooney’s career never caught up to its old momentum, although he picked up an Emmy and a few other awards and made it to 93 years. One of his claims to fame is “last survivor of the Silent Era.” Here Woman 2 did the Garland concert material; highlights include “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”. She wrapped up with the sad “The Man That Got Away”. Rooney had a few minor hits post war; tonight Man 1 covers “That Old Black Magic” and “Old Devil Moon.” These are solid songs but not the nostalgia laden ones we still hear on the show tune rotation. Woman 1&2 picked things up with “Get Happy / Happy Days,” and the cast closed with a reprise of “Over the Rainbow.” Good show, weakish ending, but fun none the less.