12 August 2023 (released)
02 September 2023
What do you get when three Australian opera students, all of whom have accidentally fallen into the wonderful cross over world of musical theatre plus jazz and share a passion for Judy Garland and George Gershwin? Answer: MY BEST JUDYS! After a ‘Fringe World Weekly Award’ win in 2021 and rave reviews at ‘Fringe World Festival 2022’, vocalists Caitlin Cassidy, Daniella Sicari and Madeleine Joyce brought their wonderful tribute to one of the most beloved entertainers, Ms. Garland, to the Edinburgh Fringe 2023 and what an incredible night it was!
Although the three vocalists are all well known to Perth Fringe audiences, they have also performed extensively in the opera houses, jazz clubs and Fringe festivals of New York, London and Melbourne to name but a few.
With a little help from the fabulous jazz pianist Tom Harris and special guests, the evening (it was the Best Judys final performance at the Fringe), kicked off with good humour and witty banter as Caitlin, Daniella and Madeleine introduced themselves with “I am Judy”… followed by “but I am also Judy”… and so forth, before expressing their passion for tunes from the titans of the American songbook, including the songs of Harold Arlen, George Gershwin and Rodgers and Hart.
Dressed in elegant black / red evening gowns (and did I spot ruby slippers?), the trio performed their first Judy Garland number, ‘Trolley Song’ before Madeleine treated the audience to the Broadway evergreen ‘Come Rain Or Come Shine’ – a delightful ditty written by Johnny Mercer with music by Harold Arlen, which Garland included in her 1956 album ‘Judy’. Next up was ‘Hooray For Love’ (performed by Dani and Madeleine) before the latter impressed with her solo performance of George Gershwin’s ‘Somebody Loves Me’. Not to be outdone, Caitlin followed suit with her solo rendition of the Harold Arlen composition ‘When The Sun Comes Out’ and it was clear to the audience that they were entertained by three incredibly talented singers with mighty impressive voices – talk about belters of the first order!
After the Garland number ‘Zing Went The Strings’ (performed my Madeleine) a real treat lay in store, namely an inspired a capella rendition of the iconic ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ – a song forever associated with Garland’s role as Dorothy in the 1939 musical fantasy THE WIZARD OF OZ. Ruby slippers, anyone?
Other much loved numbers included the George Gershwin number ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ (Dani) and ‘Happy Days/Get Happy’ (performed by Caitlin and Madeleine) – of course, Garland aficionados will know that ‘Get Happy’ was sung by her in the 1950 film SUMMER STOCK.
In between, selected special guests made their much appreciated appearance, including vocalist Nishla Smith, guitarist Dan Abrahams and trombone player Benji Arnold (who uses they/them pronouns). Unfortunately, tap dancer Hilary Marie never made it onto stage because, as Dani explained, Hilary had gone to see a Fringe show earlier on and clearly got delayed. What shame – we may have missed out on a tap dance involving… ruby slippers… who knows!
But even without the tap dancing skills of Hilary Marie, the evening proved to be a roaring success with several more numbers in store, including the Garland number ‘The Man That Got Away’ (Caitlin) and the thought-provoking and deeply touching ‘Quiet Please – There’s A Lady On Stage’ – a tribute song to Judy Garland (performed by Caitlin, Dani and Madeleine) composed by Peter Allen, who was married to Garland’s daughter Liza Minelli. Apparently, the song was meant to be a posthumous ‘thank you’ to Garland for having brought her son in law to New York and by doing so, helped launch his career.
A young chap sitting next to this reviewer was gobsmacked to hear this story, because he never knew that Liza Minelli is the daughter of Judy Garland! Well, it takes all sorts.
The evening sadly came to an end, albeit with the very upbeat ‘Good Morning’ (performed by Caitlin, Dani and Madeleine) from the 1939 film BABES IN ARMS starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.
What a wonderful tribute to Garland and Gershwin and what a wonderful distraction from all the countless comedy shows dominating the Fringe. Never mind following the yellow brick road, just follow MY BEST JUDYS on X (@mybestjudys) and let’s hope they will be back for next year’s Edinburgh Fringe!