about the show
Over the Rainbow: A Musical Tribute to the Artistry of Judy Garland presents classic songs made famous by Judy Garland. Relive the wonder of this American treasure as the remarkable Hilary Kole conjures up the spirit of Judy Garland. Accompanied by a jazz combo, Kole performs beloved songs such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “The Trolley Song,” “Get Happy,” “As Long as He Needs Me,” and many more.
Coming from a family steeped in musical performance, Hilary Kole began singing as a child, listening to her parents giving voice lessons. When she reached college, Kole studied composition at the Manhattan School of Music. She performed on stage at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Plaza during her junior year, making her the youngest vocalist ever to perform on that stage. She sang at the Rainbow Room as the featured vocalist with the Rainbow Room Orchestra for a year and a half. During this time, she learned hundreds of songs and sang six nights a week for over five hours a night.
Following the Rainbow Room’s close, Kole debuted at the Algonquin Hotel in New York as co-writer and star of the critically acclaimed off-Broadway reviews “Our Sinatra” in 1999, and “Singing Astaire” in 2008. “Our Sinatra” returned in 2010 for a ten-year anniversary limited engagement, which critics praised. Currently, Kole travels the world, headlining at notable jazz festivals and performing orchestral shows with pops orchestras.
About Judy Garland
Born Frances Ethel Gumm, in 1922, Judy Garland started performing at a very young age with her sisters Mary Jane and Dorothy Virginia. The girls toured as “The Gumm Sisters” for many years, performing song and dance routines. By December of 1934, the Gumm Sisters changed their name to the Garland Sisters. In 1935, Frances signed a contract with MGM and changed her name to Judy Garland.
The Wizard of Oz film, based on the book by L. Frank Baum, was released in 1939. By that time, Judy had appeared in eight feature length films. Her successes for The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms earned her an Academy Juvenile Award at the 1940 Academy Awards. Though nominated in 1955 for A Star is Born and in 1962 for Judgment at Nuremberg, Judy did not receive another Academy Award in her lifetime.
Throughout her career, Garland starred alongside famous leading men such as Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, and Fred Astaire. Astaire once called Garland “the greatest entertainer who ever lived, or probably ever will live.” In 1962 Garland received the Cecil B. DeMille Award when she was 39 years old and remains the youngest recipient of the award.
In spite of her professional success, Garland did not enjoy a trouble-free personal life. When talking about working for MGM as a child, Garland recalled, “They'd give us pep-up pills to keep us on our feet long after we were exhausted. Then they'd take us to the studio hospital and knock us cold with sleeping pills . . . I started to feel like a wind-up toy from FAO Schwarz.” Due to such experiences, Garland endured a lifelong struggle with drugs and alcohol, which led to her fatal overdose in 1969 at the age of 47.
In 1978 the English rose growers’ association, Harkness, dedicated a “Judy Garland” variety of rose in honor of the star. This variety produces a yellow bloom with red tips, and several such rose bushes are planted near her grave at Ferncliff Cemetery in New York, as well as at her birthplace in Minnesota.
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
With music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” became Judy Garland’s signature song. Garland once said, “It's become part of my life. It is so symbolic of all my dreams and wishes that I'm sure that's why people sometimes get tears in their eyes when they hear it.”
In The Wizard of Oz, the song begins when Dorothy’s Aunt Em tells her to "find yourself a place where you won't get into any trouble." The lyrics speak about finding that carefree place. References to rainbows, bluebirds, and lemon drops create a sharp color contrast between the imaginary world Dorothy sings about and the sepia-toned world in which she lives. An introductory verse not used in the film has been included in theatrical productions of The Wizard of Oz, sheet music for the song, and renditions by other artists.
Recognizing the 100 top movie songs of all time, The American Film Institute’s 2004 “100 Years… 100 Songs” list honored Garland’s performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as No. 1. Covered by numerous artists, such as Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, and Glenn Miller, one of the most famous versions of the song is by Hawaiian artist Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole, released in 1993. His cover (“Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”) is a ukulele medley of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Other versions of the song have appeared in a variety of films over the years.