The Road To Oz
by James Dombrowski
Frances Gumm aka Judy Garland, who went from the Midwest to Hollywood during her childhood to help support her family during the Great Depression, comes to the Great White Way of Millburn, NJ aka The Paper Mill Playhouse in Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz for a very limited engagement through October 27. The best regional theatre in America led by Mark Hoebee and Michael Stotts has become the ‘Broadway of New Jersey’ with shows that debut in Millburn and continue on to Broadway.
Photo: Talia and James Dombrowski chat with Sean Thompson who played Clark Gable in the Judy Garland play that looks at the childhood of a Hollywood icon who has been dead for 50 years and starred in the Wizard of Oz 80 years ago.
A star studded cast with voices from heaven bring Judy Garland alive in a story about her youth which shaped her life of fame and pain. Chasing Rainbows starring 23 year old Ruby Rakos of Long Hill, NJ is a must see if you enjoy the theatre and are a fan of Judy Garland. Ruby Rakos is herself a childhood star who at 23 years old can still play a 15 year old. Ruby has been on stage since childhood foregoing college for acting school in Manhattan. The portrayal of Judy emitted by Ruby is so Judy believable that your eyes have you seeing Garland / Frances Gumm on the Paper Mill Stage.
The story of the difficulties that Frances encountered to become the legend of Judy Garland is portrayed on stage with the blessing of Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft, the two daughters of Judy Garland, making Chasing Rainbows a musical reality production seldom seen on stage. The subtle portrayal of Frances’ dad Frank brings to light along with Ethel her mom a background of divergent feelings that shaped Judy Garland’s popularity and internal unrest. A loving dad who died when Frances was only 12 years old caused great hurt to a young Garland. Her dad living a life of secrets, hiding a bisexual lifestyle in the 1920’s & 1930’s, coupled with her mom’s adamant push to make her daughter a MGM star no matter what harm rendered upon her daughter, gives this production a message that is timeless. Seldom does a theatrical production have the ability to mix a serious theme with music and dancing choreographed in Emmy winning form which brings tears to your eyes. The songs from the Wizard of Oz and the ability to connect with the audience gives this show 5 Stars and a must see.
In photo on right: Ruby Rakos, who plays Judy Garland in the latest Paper Mill Playhouse smash hit “Chasing Rainbows : The Road To Oz” chats with Talia Dombrowski at the post Opening Night Party. Talia questioned Ruby, who sings some of the most iconic Garland’s songs, on her ability to relate to Garland in her own life. “I’ve been acting since I’m 5 years old. When I was a teen, I had the same problems that Judy had with looking too young and not old enough”. Ruby, 23, looks like she’s 15, yet her voice is incredibly rich and large. Talia asked Ruby about her training; Ruby noted it was not very formal and didn’t include any college studies, but she did attend a Manhattan Acting School. When asked how she trains her voice, Ruby gave a simple and straight answer: “breathing and confidence in myself is what’s most important”.