Andrew Broadbent as promoter Harry M. Miller.
JUDY • AUSTRALIA • 1964 went from just an idea to its world premiere at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre in just six short months in 2019. Its original iteration – a one-hour cabaret-style presentation – starred the wonderful Australian dramatic contralto Liane Keegan as Judy Garland, with talented Alistair Fearson as Harry M Miller, in three sold-out performances.
After a COVID-interrupted two years, the full two-act production was presented for the first time at Melbourne’s Whitehorse Centre in 2021. Starring Australia’s highly respected jazz singer Nina Ferro as Garland and the gifted theatre performer Andrew Broadbent as Miller, the production was again a great success, and we look forward to presenting this remarkable story from Australia’s cultural history with audiences around the country.
The success of the show is due to the magnificent talents of originally Liane Keegan and now Nina Ferro, the compelling story telling of writer Bill Farr, and of course the wonderful Judy Garland. It presents Garland honestly – in all her greatness, and in all her vulnerability – all through the microcosm of her dramatic 12 day Australian tour.
First produced in the 50th year since Garland’s death the show struck a chord and garnered much public and media attention with interviews on ABC TV, Channel 9, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Melbourne Press Club and numerous radio stations.
“Skunkworks Productions brings ‘Judy • Australia • 1964.” to Melbourne audiences with all of the respect and heart it deserves, as it explores one of Judy’s most pivotal performance moments at the height of her personal struggles.” Nicola Bennett, Theatre Travels
“This truly is a theatrical ode to all that Judy was - glamorous, moving, and above all, a very human experience.” Nicola Bennett, Theatre Travels
“This is Skunkworks Production’s first offering – may there be many more of this quality, because there is an audience out there who will flock to see shows like Judy – Australia – 1964.” Julie Houghton, Classic Melbourne
The show had its genesis in a chance conversation on a bus while on tour in Europe in 2018. Musical Director Phillipa Edwards mentioned to writer Bill Farr that Skunkworks was looking to produce a show about Judy Garland. Bill, who had had a fascination with Garland for many years, suspected that there was great potential for a musical drama in Garland’s ill-fated tour of Australia in 1964.
He had already thoroughly research the tour for a series of drawings he’d done for an exhibition in 2011. The script came easily, with a perfect theatrical dramatic arc. Throw in sixteen of Garland’s greatest songs, and the rest is history.
Skunkworks brought everyone together to set in motion a show that became an instant hit. A great performer such as Judy Garland deserves an honest presentation that showcases her incredible talents, but also tells of her struggles with the pressures of stardom and substance abuse.
In 1964 in a move that would help shape his future career, promoter Harry M. Miller got Judy to Australia for a series of concerts in Sydney and Melbourne. One of the most eagerly awaited show-business events ever in Australia evolved, for it’s star, into a roller-coaster ride of incredible highs and unbelievable lows. Stunning success in Sydney, humiliating failure in Melbourne. Over twelve short days we see Garland’s life unravel as her legendary power to triumph over adversity finally fails her.