The Wish: The Art of Judy Garland

by Steve Desroches, September 4, 2014

lisa jason - provincetown

Like many of us Lisa Jason remembers the first time she ever saw The Wizard of Oz.  In the days before VCRs, DVD players, and On Demand, the classic MGM film only aired once a year. It was an event. One evening Jason’s mother came to her room, turned on her small television and magic ensued. She was transfixed by the story and completely enchanted by the film’s superstar Judy Garland, and a love affair began. From that point on Jason never missed a chance to watch Garland on television and listened to her records with the devotion of an apostle. In her show The Wish: The Art of Judy Garland at the Provincetown Theater Jason presents a concert homage to one of the 20th century’s greatest performers in a delightful evening of song, stories, and spirit.

First, this being Provincetown, it is important to note that this is not an impersonation show, a point worth mentioning considering Garland’s role in gay culture, particularly amongst drag queens. Jason, appropriately enough, does bring all the glamour one might expect for an evening out in Provincetown at this cabaret-style show. Along with her band, she reimagines the signature songs of Garland’s career, making The Wish a lovely performance of legendary songs presented in new and fresh ways. Jason’s voice is smooth and sparkling like a chilled glass of champagne that bubbles up to reveal that she has a big, big voice as she belts out emotional notes in songs like “You Made Me Love You” and “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart.”

The Wish is slickly directed by Joshua Morgan, transforming the Provincetown Theater into an intimate jazz club for the night as Jason puts her heart and soul into every song. Through the use of still images and video clips peppered throughout the show the ghost of Garland is ever present. While it is indeed an evening of the music of Judy Garland, this is very much a Lisa Jason show as she puts her own voice, both literally and creatively, into each interpretation of these American classics. While the life of Garland, with all its triumphs and tragedies, is well known, Jason incorporates some of the little known poetry Garland wrote, shining a new light on someone who spent almost their entire life under the glaring scrutiny of the spotlight of superstardom.  One poem in particular, “The First Cigarette,” features a woman in a nightclub sipping cocktails and fending off the attention of men only to stamp out her cigarette as she realizes she is late for school, a tender and heartbreaking reminder of the child star forced to grow up too soon in Hollywood.

Despite all the sadness associated with the life of Judy Garland, Jason focuses on the unbridled creativity and artistry of the legend. She manages to find a softness to the star known for her grit and bravado through her own interpretation as to what Garland meant to her and what her music means to our culture at large.

The Wish: The Art of Judy Garland is at the Provincetown Theater, 238 Bradford St. Friday, September 5 and Saturday, September 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $28.75 for general and $38.75 for premiere. Tickets are available at the box office and online at provincetowntheater.org. For more information call 508.487.7487.