Lisa Maxwell is probably best known for her appearances in the Bill and Loose Women, but it is without doubt that her crowning glory is in the role of screen legend, Judy Garland.
Maxwell is sensational in the role of the Hollywood superstar on the West End and Broadway hit End of the Rainbow at the Opera House, Manchester, this week, as part of a major UK tour.
If you’re expecting happy little munchkins and a few songs, you’ll be disappointed. But this is great drama with light and a fair bit of dark shade. Garland’s barbed wit takes centre stage, but there is tragedy in the humour.
The play is set in 1968, when Garland, a once-glittering star, hoped to make her explosive comeback at the Talk of the Town, London .
But off stage, in the claustrophobic environment of her hotel room, Judy is battling with her young new fiancé, her devoted accompanist, and her destructive addictions.
The interplay between the three central characters is superb. Gary Wilmot in the role of the pianist forced to watch his friend self destruct displays his credentials as a veteran of stage, with a wonderfully crafted performance.
And Sam Attwater is also excellent in the difficult role of fiancé Mickey, with a performance that keeps us guessing whether he cares for Judy or is driven. solely by the drive to get her career back on track.
It is great stuff and Maxwell is revelation when recreating those classic Garland which produce some real hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck moments.