I had heard there was soon to be a Broadway musical about Judy Garland. Why not, thinks I, we're so busy deifying actresses who can impersonate Marilyn Monroe and others of the era, and Judy is so accessible to the impersonator--ho hum. Little did I know.
I picked up the review (if you can pick up an Internet posting) in the New York Times this morning of End of the Rainbow and was astonished to see a review that was nothing short of a rave from Ben Brantley. This is the paper of record for the theatre, and Brantley is a respected and articulate critic.
I'm reading along, about how beautifully the play is written, how astonishing is the leading lady's (Tracie Bennett) performance, and I hit upon a familiar Hoboken name: Tom Pelphrey. He is playing Micky Deans, Garland's husband during her final slide into drug-induced, hysteria-laced darkness. Brantley says he is perfectly cast. This means he's done quite a job--going toe-to-toe with a dynamite actress playing the role of a beloved dragon--and he's made the shadowy part of an also-ran type guy into a remarkably living, memorable character.
I first heard of Tom Pelphrey when he appeared in a one-man show in Hoboken called My Italy Story. My Hoboken theatre friends were blown away by his performance. It had run for only one or two performances in Hoboken, but I made it a point to catch it when it moved to The Barrow Street Theatre in the West Village. Tom peopled the stage with characters and held the audience in the palm of his hand as he described a young Italian American's journey to the village where his family lived in the hills of Italy. I came away somehow convinced that it was Tom's own story, that he was the one who had written it and was just relating his adventures in a vivid way. I look at the flyer I was given and see that it clearly names a playwright, Joseph Gallo, and identifies Pelphrey as an actor playing a role. He doesn't even have an Italian name.
I'm thrilled for Tom. I'm thrilled that the play is good. And I'm thrilled to be back in Hoboken, where a trip to a Broadway play is just minutes away. I'm hoping to see this one.