I absolutely adored Through the Mill when I saw it last year in its world premiere run at London Theatre Workshop. I pestered the producers to let me come back and run this Q&A, with not just writer and director Ray Rackham (genius!) but also the three Judy Garlands, all reprising their roles for this transfer to the larger Southwark Playhouse: Lucy Penrose, Belinda Wollaston and Helen Sheals. What an immense treat!
Set primarily during the filming of The Judy Garland Show in 1963, Through the Mill chronicles the production difficulties behind the scenes, intercut with the young Judy Garland’s rise to fame through MGM in the 1930s, and her triumphant sell-out concert engagement at the Palace Theatre in the early 1950s.
Illustrating why Judy Garland was, and continues to be, one of the great legends of show business history, Through the Mill goes beyond the rainbow, and explores the life of a woman destined for greatness; as loved today as she was when she first made her way along the yellow brick road.
For both audiences new to Garland’s extensive back catalogue in the world of film and music, as well as the true Judy aficionado, here is an honest, entertaining and moving portrait of a legend; as courageous, determined, sincere and funny as she was memorably tragic.
The show features a hit list of Garland favourites, including The Trolley Song, The Man That Got Away and Over the Rainbow, with a 16-strong company of actor musicians, and a cast headed by three actresses playing the legend herself. Helen Sheals (Downton Abbey) plays CBS Judy, native Australian Belinda Wollaston plays Palace Judy, and Lucy Penrose (nominated for a My Theatre Mates #AlsoRecognised Award for Newcomer of the Year for Through the Mill) plays Young Judy.
At the Q&A on 13 July, I’ll be joined by writer/director Ray Rackham and the three Judies to discussThrough the Mill and the creation of an icon.