Judy Garland: Come Rain or Come Shine@Music Theater Works

3 stars out of 4

Angela Ingersoll has more than a passing resemblance to Judy Garland; her crooked teeth and tiny size, paired with a gigantic voice, have rendered her the ultimate Garland cosplayer.  Music Theater Works, whose fall offering is traditionally a concert format focusing on a particular composer or genre, has brought a high energy tribute concert to downtown Evanston and audiences are enthralled.

Judy Garland:Come Rain or Come Shine would more likely fit in a nightclub, or S.P.A.C.E. than in the awkward Nichols Concert Hall but on our uncomfortable church pews no one is noticing because Ingersoll's bio pic worthy patter and fully orchestrated renditions of Garland's signature tunes blows us out of our seats. Backed by a six piece band conducted by piano maestro Jeremy Kahn, the arrangements are lush and large. 

Ingersoll has been obsessed with Judy Garland since her youth, but it is only recently that she has begun traveling the world invoking the legend, including a WTTW special and a concert with Garland's son, Joey Luft.  Her interpretations are lovely and moving. She does not attempt to sing like Garland.  Her voice is more of a musical theatre instrument, honed and crafted exquisitely well, in contrast to Garland's truly unique voice, both vulnerable and powerful.  It is Ingersoll's heart and dedication to telling Garland's stories that makes this show rise above the standard tribute concert.  I hope future iterations include more of the quiet intimate tunes, especially in smaller houses like Nichols.  Ingersoll's encyclopedic knowledge of Garland is impressive as is her desire to connect and interact with the audience.  She hangs out in the lobby after the show to swap stories and anecdotes. 

A large number of the opening night patrons had experienced Garland live, and for them this was a special treat which evoked memories and created new ones. 

Ingersoll invests in her high wattage performance to keep the legend alive and if you are a Garland fan or just Garland curious, this is a not to be missed night of music. Judy Garland:Come Rain of Come Shine  is a short run, now through Sunday October 14, 2018 (no shows on Monday and Tuesday) at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue in downtown Evanston.  For tickets and information go to http://www.MusicTheaterWorks.com or call 847-920-5360