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Jim as Judy GarlandJUDY IN DISGUISE: The Ideal Man For Garland And Streisand – by Tony Patrick (taken from The London Times)

LONDON - It was in London, 27 years ago last month, that Judy Garland died; but through the necromantic skill of Jim Bailey, she is smiling and singing as vibrantly as ever at the Green Room. Bailey is alternating his Garland and his equally uncanny impersonation of Barbra Streisand to full houses and his season has been extended until Saturday. A few moments in the company of his creations makes the reason clear; he becomes these singers to a degree that defies disbelief.

     Other performers may capture the look, the timbre, the intonation or the mannerisms, but only he can achieve them all and maintain them through an hour or more on stage, the audience just beyond his outstretched arm and in many cases devoutly devoted to the divas being represented. You daren’t “diss” Judy or Barbra in front of an upmarket gay crowd, honey and Bailey currently has even the most nitpicking of them cheering in appreciation.

     As last year at the same venue, his Streisand, from impeccably-parted coiffure to dainty foot, is compellingly authentic. The between-songs babbling is as convincing as the big, confident voice or the way the hand absently traces an arc from the crown of the head to the tip of the fringe.

     And Judy? Well, by Gumm, she is in terrific form. The smile is just a little too bright, the stomach a touch prominent, the chat tumbling over itself with a girlish eagerness to please and be liked. The voice is warm, thrilling, even lusty.

     Not only the obvious songs are offered: after all, this is a knowledgeable crowd, and Bailey, apart from having sung alongside Liza Minnelli, recreating the mother-daughter partnership, has performed at the express invitation of both Streisand and Minnelli, so he knows whereof he speaks. His accompanist, Sean Gough, is impeccably attuned to the nuances of both performances and it is said that, should you be close enough to the stage, you can verify that even the perfume is in character. Uncanny, and as classy an act as you could hope to find.


Copyright 2005 Jim Bailey. All rights reserved.
Master Tony Bonazzo: Tbonazzo@snet.net