Frances Ethel “Baby” Gumm – the child vaudeville star who became America’s sweetheart after changing her name to Judy Garland, singing a song on a trolley, and following a yellow brick road – was a hot mess of a person. Fragile and belligerent
by turns after being used (and borderline-abused) by everyone around her pretty much from birth, she embodied the tragic-star cliché, tantrums, overdoses and all. But maybe it was that bitter undercurrent that grounded the warm, soaring sweetness of her voice.
Tonight the Orlando Philharmonic, with Broadway singing star Karen Mason and under the baton of Michael Berkowitz, performs a tribute to Garland spotlighting the high points of her famed 1961 Carnegie Hall comeback concert, sometimes called “the greatest night in showbiz history.” The recording of that show is goosebump-inducing, especially “Over the Rainbow,” but we’re hoping Mason can nail Garland’s throbbing interpretation of “How Long Has This Been Going On?” And, OK, we’ll admit that a little part of us also hopes for a cameo appearance by Mark Baratelli’s pill-addled, non sequitur-spouting Judy
(from his eponymous Orlando Fringe show). As far as we’re concerned, that part of her life was part of the magic too. (Who knows, maybe Baratelli will crash the stage? Fingers crossed.)
2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 5 | Bob Carr Theater, 401 W. Livingston St. | 407-770-0071 | orlandophil.org