Another challenge was to find the best way to honor Garland without resorting to impersonation. (“Drag queens do that every night in New York City,” Allen laughs.) In the end, Legends is truly an evening with Caufield, who was in turn deeply inspired by Garland, her childhood idol.
“I was very clear when we started this process that I didn’t want to portray Judy,” Caufield says. “I didn’t want the show to be a caricature of her like other revues have the tendency to become. In other words, [Legends] is not meant to be a an impersonation but a musical celebration. I think that our audiences, especially the die-hard purists, really appreciate that.”
Purists will also be thrilled to hear Stubbs’ new arrangements of classic songs and inventive medleys (like one about the weather, which is where they managed to slip in the obligatory nod to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”).
That philosophy of celebration rather than copying will serve Legends well. Allen and Caufield hope to expand the concept into a series that could someday cover the music of stars like Linda Ronstadt, Elvis, or Frank Sinatra.
First up is Legends: Barbra Streisand, which will premiere at Good Theater in April 2015. Rather than focus on Streisand’s better-known, later material, this show will shine a spotlight on her earlier stuff, from “when she was that quirky, kooky girl in those clubs in Greenwich Village,” as Allen puts it. Eventually, the possibility will exist to do a two-act show, with the first act encompassing Garland and the second act paying tribute to Babs.
And while there’s no doubt that Caufield will embody each of these Legends with passion and prowess, one senses that her heart will always belong to none other than Frances Ethel Gumm.
“She had a voice that was unmistakable and a stage presence that invited her audiences into her world,” Caufield says of Garland. “She was the most alive when she was on stage and would often exclaim to her audiences things like, ‘I could sing all night!’ and, ‘I don’t ever want to go home!’ The stage was her home, and that is a dynamic that I can certainly identify with.”
WHERE TO SEE IT:
>> Freeport Theater of Awesome | Friday, April 4 @ 7:30pm; Saturday, April 5 @ 2 and 7:30pm | $15-18 | 5 Depot St, Freeport | 207.675.4000 or theaterofawesome.com
>> The Footlights | Friday, May 2 @ 8pm; Saturday, May 3 @ 8pm | $15-18 | 190 US Route One, Falmouth | 207.747.5434 or thefootlightsinfalmouth.com
>> Raymond Village Community Church, presented by Raymond Village Community Concerts | Sunday, April 6 @ 2:30pm | $15 | 27 Main St, Raymond | 207.939.7947 or email@example.com
>> Theater at Monmouth | Thursday, August 21 @ 7:30pm | $25 (Monmouth subscribers get a 20 percent discount) | 796 Main St, Monmouth | 207.933.9999 or theateratmonmouth.org