British actress Tracie Bennett’s talent turns heads across oceans, transcending geographic borders. Following a 2011 nomination for best actress by the Laurence Olivier Awards for her role as Judy Garland in the London production of End of the Rainbow, Bennett has now captured a 2012 Tony Award nomination for the Broadway version. Not only is this her first Tony nod, it’s also Bennett’s Broadway debut.
Written by Peter Quilter, the musical bio-drama focuses on Judy Garland’s last months before her death in 1969 at age 47. The New York Times’s Ben Brantley, who saw Bennett’s interpretation of Garland in both London and New York City, raves that Bennett goes beyond impersonation. Instead, the actor offers up a Judy Garland who emanates “the end products of a long and torturous personal and professional history.” In taking on an American icon such as Garland, Bennett has had to embody and humanize a multi-dimensional woman whose brilliance on the screen and the public stage was paralleled by a private life of drug addiction and emotional turmoil.
The role, said Bennett in a recent interview, reminds her of how “people suffer when in theory they have everything . . . . However people look at Judy in their lives and think of the glamour and The Wizard of Oz, underneath that, little did anyone know the pain and the heartache.” What seems apparent is that one of Bennett’s many talents as a performer stems from the level of empathy and compassion she is able to bring to the role.