Feinstein pays tribute to Judy Garland


Bella Lee, Staff writer

On Oct. 26, in another spectacular concert courtesy of MIAC, members of the Mercyhurst com-munity had the opportunity to witness musical virtuoso Michael Feinstein celebrate the centennial of musical legend Judy Garland. The show is titled “Get Happy! Michael Feinstein Celebrates the Judy Garland Centennial.” Notably, the show is executive produced by the esteemed Liza Minnelli, Garland’s oldest daughter. Feinstein’s show is a tribute to Garland’s cultural achievements and impacts.

Garland, who would have turned 100 years old on June 22, became a household name in her own right and will be remembered for ages. The show is named after the song “Get Happy” from the 1950 movie “Summer Stock,” which Garland starred in. The starlet began her career in music at a very young age when she was in a vaudeville team with her two older sisters. Garland is best known for portraying Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”, but she starred in dozens of other films. Some of her notable credits include “Babes in Arms”, “Ziegfeld Girl”, “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “A Star is Born.”

Feinstein has been in show business since 1986 and was a protégé of Ira Gershwin. He currently serves as Artistic Director for The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana. His first album, “Pure Gershwin,” was released in 1987, and since then his multiple albums have covered music composed by Burton Lane, Jule Styne, Jerry Herman, George Gershwin, Jimmy Webb and Frank Sinatra, among others. His latest album, “Gershwin Country,” was released in 2021.

The concert consisted of a timeline of her life, with performances by Feinstein, including vaudeville tunes, songs from her biggest movies and even never-before-seen footage of music that the public never knew existed until now. The performances had incredible range and provoked tears from many audience members. Feinstein opened the concert with the song “Get Happy,” which, as previously stated, serves as the title of the show. He then followed by singing a medley of songs that Garland, born Frances Ethel Gumm, performed in vaudeville with her sisters.

He also performed a medley of songs from “The Wizard of Oz,” combining “If I Only Had a Brain,” “If I Only Had a Heart” and “If I Only Had the Nerve,” sung by the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, respectively. He cracked a joke with the audience by stating how the Philadelphia Inquirer summarized the movie, with the synopsis being, “Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.” Moments such as this brought some levity to a bittersweet performance remembering the lost icon.

His ending duet of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with video footage of Garland was met with thundering applause. It was a truly remarkable event to witness that was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Feinstein did an incredible job of both paying tribute to Garland’s work and making the performance his own. Garland is undeniably a force to be reckoned with, and Feinstein did a beautiful job of accompanying the late-starlet’s vocals. Her tone has an ethereal note to it that sounds even more beautiful when played in a setting such as this.

The evening was a beautiful and moving tribute to the legacy that Garland left behind. The next MIAC performance, the Holiday Stomp with the Hot Sardines, is still a ways away, on Nov. 29. But, be sure to get your tickets at the PAC box office if you don’t want to miss this amazing event!