Singer/actress Kelly Caufield invites audiences to “Get Happy” as they join her on a musical journey “Over the Rainbow,” and beyond in “Legends: The Music of Judy Garland,” now being presented at Biddeford’s City Theater.
The performance is a five-year labor or love written by Caufield and Good Theater’s Executive & Artistic Director, Brian P. Allen. Good Theater patrons may recall a previous incarnation three years ago called “Marvelous.”
Caufield and Allen gleaned the best of that show to create “Legends: The Music of Judy Garland.” And, this new version leaves little doubt: Like Judy Garland, Caufield has “got rhythm” and an unforgettable set of pipes to match.
Her love of Garland’s performances was obvious from the moment she walked onto the historic opera house stage Friday night singing “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody.” It was in her voice and radiating from her face.
Accompanied by Victoria Stubbs on piano, Caufield performed 27 songs from Garland’s vast and varied repertoire. Some were part of medleys arranged by Stubbs, while others were sung in their entirety. The collection showcased both Garland’s and Caufield’s versatility.
Showstoppers included “I’ve Got Rhythm” — which wrapped up a Gershwin medley — and a partially a cappella rendition of “Over the Rainbow” (“Wizard of Oz”) that garnered an extended applause from the audience.
Caufield performed fast-paced crowd-pleasers such as “Johnny One Note” (“Babes in Arms”) and “The Trolley Song” (“Meet Me in St. Louis”), and ballads such as “Come Rain or Come Shine” (“St. Louis Woman”) and “You Made Me Love You” (“Broadway Melody of 1938”). Whatever the style, she was animated and expressive, and her vocals were rich and powerful.
Between songs, Caufield regaled the audience with stories and facts from Garland’s life. There was reverence in her voice as she recalled Garland’s 1961 Carnegie Hall performance before singing “Almost Like Being In Love”/”This Can’t Be Love” (“Brigadoon”/”The Boys From Syracuse”).
Later, she talked wistfully about what it would have been like to see Garland star in the 1950 film “Annie Get Your Gun,” explaining that Garland was fired from the picture due her unfortunate downward spiral into drug addition. This served as a lead-in to “I Got Lost In His Arms.”
Caufield also delighted the audience with tales from her own life, telling how she performed for her family as a child, hairbrush serving as a microphone.
The engaging evening wound to a close with a rousing movie medley that brought the audience members to their feet.
Before taking her final bows, Caufield performed one last number, “Smile.” The song was a moving tribute to her grandmother, who was the one who fostered Caufield’s love of Garland’s performances.
“Legends: The Music of Judy Garland” is an entertaining celebration of Garland’s work that will enchant existing Garland fans, and quite possibly garner Garland more fans posthumously. The performance is the first in a promising series of “Legends” planned by Caufield and Allen.
April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at: