Nina-Ferro-as-Judy-Garland-photo-by-Carl-McKinnonRelive the Judy Garland concert tour of Australia that made headlines around the world, as JUDY • AUSTRALIA • 1964 recreates the dramatic roller-coaster that was Garland’s infamous tour down under in 1964, at the National Theatre this February.

Presented as part of the 2023 Midsumma Festival, JUDY • AUSTRALIA • 1964 stars multi award winners Nina Ferro and Matt Hetherington, supported by an 8-piece showband in this two-act musical.

The early ’60s saw Garland cement her reputation as one of the world’s greatest live performers. Her award-winning Judy At Carnegie Hall live album brought her a new legion of fans, and her television series allowed her public to see she was no longer Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz.

This was the Garland that Australia was desperate to see. And they did – in Sydney – spectacularly. Her two shows there were received, and reviewed, rapturously. By the time she got to Melbourne, however, she was in bad shape.

It seemed that a lifetime of personal demons and substance abuse had finally caught up with her. She arrived at Festival Hall 70-minutes late and gave a performance that angered many in the audience, and devastated her die-hard fans.

Writer Bill Farr has been fascinated with Judy Garland since the early seventies, when he first heard the Carnegie Hall album. “It was in live performance that Garland was at her most electrifying,” he said.

“At her best, no one could come close to the effect she had on audiences. Her Melbourne performance was, therefore, both a shock and a foretaste of what was to come.”

“In writing this show, I wanted to capture both the excitement of the performer at her peak, and the drama of the moment when her legendary ability to triumph over adversity finally failed her,” said Farr.

For this production, one of Australia’s greatest jazz singers, Nina Ferro, becomes Judy Garland. She is mesmerising as The Legend, singing many of her show-stopping songs. Helpmann Award winning actor Matt Hetherington plays entrepreneur Harry M. Miller, who brought Garland to Australia.

Told from the perspective of Harry M. Miller, JUDY • AUSTRALIA • 1964 recounts the drama of Garland’s twelve days in Oz, but ultimately celebrates the brilliance of an icon – one whose like we will never see again.

Director: Lauren McKinnon | Performers: Nina Ferro, Matt Hetherington  | Musical Director: Phillipa Edwards | Writer: Bill Farr

National Theatre, 20 Carlisle Street, St Kilda
Performances: 10 – 11 February 2023
Information and Bookings: www.midsumma.org.au

Image: Nina Ferro as Judy Garland – photo by Carl McKinnon