Judy Garland "I’m Still Here" ★★★★★ Ambassadors Theatre | June 30, 2024

To entertain friends and family during the Covid-19 crisis, Debbie Wileman began posting a song a day on Facebook. With her impersonation of stars like Julie Andrews, Billie Holliday and Judy Garland, she soon gained a worldwide following. And, when lockdown ended, she found herself with a career that would take her on an American tour resulting in her winning the BroadwayWorld Award for Best Solo Special Event. This was followed by the release of her tribute album to Garland, “I’m Still Here.” It is an unusual and heartwarming success story which becomes completely understandable when one has the opportunity to see Debbie Wileman in concert, singing not only Garland's greatest hits, but songs which Wileman wished Garland had sung. This is a wonderful stroll down a musical memory lane and also a lovely glimpse into what might have been. The standards like "The Boy Next Door" and "The Man Who Got Away" were done to perfection, but it was also delightful to hear a Garland version of "Back to Black" and "Beauty and the Beast." Wileman's affection for her inspiration is palpable and her chat between numbers is interesting and endearingly down-to-earth. She has an incredibly powerful voice and she puts that instrument to extraordinary use. Ultimately she goes beyond imitation to create song stylings that pay homage to Judy, while bringing something unique to her own particular version. It's a great marriage of two outstanding talents, and Wileman's interpretations have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. If you get the chance to fly over the rainbow with Debbie Wileman, don't miss it.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Image: Debbie Wileman in Judy Garland "I'm Still Here".

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