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By Mark Griffin (taken from The Sun Journal)

      Jim Bailey is a one man all-star cast who is as mesmerizing as the leading ladies he recreates on stage.

     Audiences will have dual opportunities to witness Bailey's talents as he impersonates Barbra Streisand on August 18th at the Ogunquit Playhouse, a benefit for AIDS Response Seacoast and the Playhouse, and then the immortal Judy Garland September 1st at Portland's Merrill Auditorium. The latter performance will benefit AIDS Response and the Frannie Peabody Center.

     “It's something that I can’t explain,” said Bailey of the show.  "It's intangible.  I can't tell you how I do what I do.  I can talk to you about music, about make up, about lighting, but I can't tell you what that ingredient is that makes me Judy or Barbra.”

     Whatever that indefinable element may be, Bailey, who lived in Philadelphia, made it work for decades winning approval from the most discerning onlookers of all. . . the icons he emulates.

    "I met Judy towards the end of her life," Bailey said, "I wouldn't have the insight into her as much as I have if I hadn't really known and spent some time with her."

     Garland was ringside for one of Bailey's early raw performances as "The Wizard of Oz" star.  “There I was on stage as Judy sat there, and I heard her laugh.”  Bailey recalled.  "The audience of coarse was watching her watching me. We did an impromptu duet.  Afterwards,” he recalled, "As the curtains closed, she put her arms around my neck and she looked up at me and said, "You know, I never realized I was that pretty."

     One of Bailey's favorite memories is of devouring cheeseburgers with Garland at 8 o'clock in the morning.  "She'd come from a party and she's sitting there in this beautiful pink beaded gown and having her cheeseburger."  Bailey recalled.  "She said to me, you know, you have a very special gift.  Do you realize what you're all about?"

     Bailey responded by saying he didn't know how to explain it.  "You'll probably never be able to explain it," she told him.  "It's a gift that God gave you, dear."

     Besides his trademark Garland characterization, Bailey has also mastered Streisand's carefully manicured persona, Phyllis Diller's irreverence and Peggy Lee's winsome mystery.  "In a way, it's like doing repertory," Bailey said.

     The showman confessed that he once contemplated "discarding the ladies" but was dissuaded by Liza Minnelli.  "Liza said, If you stop doing what you're doing, how could I ever see my mother again?" Bailey said.  "It took me a lot of years to really come to understand what Liza calls the gift of the angels."


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