In the air there’s a feeling of…Judy! This year marks the centennial year of the inimitable Judy Garland, the full throttle multi-award-winning performer who remains a towering LGBTQ+ icon.
On April 23, 1961, Garland performed a legendary concert at the equally renown Carnegie Hall. The recorded event earned her a Grammy award and to this day, it is regarded as of the greatest concerts of all time at the hallowed venue.
Those fortunate enough to score a ticket witnessed another historical concert on Monday night, December 12th as Jessica Vosk commanded the stage in GET HAPPY: A Judy Garland CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION.
Vosk, a one-time investor relations employee on Wall Street, held the audience firmly in her grasp as she paid homage to the adored diva. She eschewed much of Garland’s troubled history and instead focused on what made her such a great talent.
Navigating through songs including, “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, “Chicago”, and the ubiquitous “Over the Rainbow”, Vosk left patrons yearning for more. Between songs, vintage clips of Garland were shown and, in one of the night’s most touching moments, Vosk harmonized with Garland to “Smile.”
Rather than imitate, Vosk made Garland’s music entirely her own.
Mary Mitchell Campell music directed the two hour concert with a phenomenal ensemble of musicians. Robert Cary and Jonathan Tolins crafted the script (although it seems as though Vosk deliciously deviated from it in all the right moments). Michael Arden directed the night while designer Zak Posen
Vosk was joined by Andy Karl. The two of them have appeared in the Broadway musical Wicked. They joined each other for “Hello, Dolly”, “Embraceable You”, and “Hello Bluebird.”
Vosk also gave her fans a taste of the holiday season with the memorable tune from the MGM classic Meet Me in St. Louis, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
That song was featured later in the week by Ingrid Michaelson who joined the New York Pops Orchestra for their annual holiday concert on Friday December 16th and Saturday December 17th. Michaelson, a New York native was joined by several guest artists through the night, including Jason Mraz, Will Chase, and Ian Axel. Axel accompanied her for the pensive and beautiful, “It’s Almost Christmas,” while other familiar and original Christmas tunes followed.
The Pops orchestra was featured prominently on “Sleigh Ride” and various Christmas medley. Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA added to the festive spirit of the night.
Fans of Garland should also listen to Debbie Wileman. Although she’s not a household name or a Broadway star, the English vocalist is a vocal dead ringer for the late Garland. Wileman found early fame through social media at the beginning of the pandemic. Earlier this year, she released an album called I’m Still Here, a collection of well-known melodies that Garland never recorded but reimagines what they woud sound like if she had. Her album is available on all streaming platforms. Wileman embarked on an U.S. tour earlier this year. She played Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, FL, Carnegie Hall, Provincetown, and Los Angeles.