Judy & Liza Together Again!
If you want to see a straightforward impersonation of Judy Garland, head over to Broadway, where Tracie Bennett is portraying the great entertainer in "End of the Rainbow." If you want to see someone really do Garland -- that is, take that outsized showbiz persona and serve it up on a platter --then head two blocks west, to Restaurant Row, where the best Garland impersonator on the planet is doing his magic at Don’t Tell Mama.
Once again, the brilliant Tommy Femia is joined by Rick Skye as Judy’s daughter Liza. Since we’re seeing Liza more or less as she is now, this obviously requires a bit of suspension of belief. But leave your sense of time at the door, and you’ll do fine, because both of these entertainers do a show that is unsurpassable.
Equal parts send-up, straight-up tribute, satire, campy gay wisecracks and pure showbiz razzmatazz; "Judy and Liza Together Again!" is one of those shows that defines "cabaret." In a tight set, Skye and Femia take turns taking over the stage until the inevitable ending duet.
Femia plays it slightly straighter than Skye, which gives him the opportunity to sell "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." That a man as Judy Garland can still manage to wring the drama and pathos out of this, Garland’s signature song, is a testament to Femia’s formidable talent as a singer in his own right. (Just the same, a few more of the drinking and drugging jokes wouldn’t hurt.)
For his part, Skye delivers Minnelli’s signature song, "New York New York." But he gets the evening’s biggest laughs in a wild medley that manages to interweave Beyoncé’s "Single Ladies" into "Ring Them Bells." Somewhere along the way, the songs become a paean to Minnelli’s walk-on role in the second "Sex in the City" movie, along with a lament about her gay husbands.
If you’ve never seen Femia’s Garland impersonation, you are missing out on the one of Seven Wonders of the World. With Skye along for the ride, this show is gayer than Liza performing in Cherry Grove. And dig those sequin costumes!
"Judy & Liza Together Again!" runs through August 25 at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street. For info or tickets, call 212-757-0788 or visit www.donttellmamanyc.com