I often wondered about people who did one-person shows — specifically, what kind of person would want to hold a 7500-word script in her head. Well, in the last year, I’ve become that person. And I’m still not much closer to understanding why someone would voluntarily do what amounts to a high-wire act without a net. Except that when it works it is really, really fun.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I finished Round Two of my one-woman show, All Happiness, Judy Garland — the first go-‘round was a year ago June 24th at the Winter Park Playhouse — and this time the script was about fifty percent rewritten and some songs were swapped-in from my back catalogue. As before, my husband Mark Flanders wrote, directed, and fretted that I wouldn’t get the new lines and blocking learned in time. With the performance coming just three weeks after a pair of full-length Garland concerts with the Enid Symphony down in Oklahoma AND coinciding with the last week of pop voice teaching at Cleveland Institute of Music, he was probably smart to worry. But I reassured him that it wasn’t nearly as hard as memorizing a piano concerto, and then bribed myself with vintage costume jewelry to stay on my draconian memorization schedule. Indeed, despite a few excitingly close calls at the first performance, I managed not to fall off the stage or otherwise embarrass myself or him, and it got easier from there.
In the show, I play a fictional character named “Jane Telling,” whose life is a mash-up of mine, my grandparents and great-grandparents, some real people in Hollywood and at MGM, and pure imagination. She’s essentially who I might have been if I’d been born in Iowa (as I was, but not in 1915), gone to Oberlin Conservatory to study voice and piano (as I did, but not in the mid-‘30s), then headed out to Hollywood to seek work at RKO and ended up as Roger Edens’ musical assistant in the magical MGM music department, working with Judy Garland, and copying parts from star arranger Conrad Salinger’s manuscripts for Judy to sing with the MGM Studio Orchestra and Chorus.Read More