(This post was originally posted by Flaming Nora on the Coronation Street Blog October 2011, reposted to this blog with permission.)
Last night we went to the theatre to see Tracie Bennett as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow and, well, I was absolutely blown away by her performance. The acting, singing and energy of the show which was primarily a one-woman show, was incredible. It's one of those shows that's going to stay with me for a very long time.
Tracie, for those older Coronation Street fans who'll remember, played Sharon Gaskell on Corrie. Sharon was a fragile soul, engaged to be married to a bloke called Ian who had an affair with Natalie Horrocks and one of the most mesmerising scenes on Corrie was Sharon in her wedding dress bawling her eyes out on the cobbles after she ran out of her winter wedding, snow falling around her. Tracie seemed to take that vulnerability and fragility of Sharon a little and you could see glimpses of it last night in the way she portrayed Judy Garland too. There was also a lot of Elsie Tanner-like feistiness and physical resemblance in the way she played Judy Garland and we wondered why Tracie hadn't been considered (or maybe she had?) for the role of Elsie in The Road to Coronation Street.
Anyway, in the interval, Sunny Jim and I discussed how, very often, we only ever appreciate how good an actor actually is when we see them away from our favourite soap. For instance, I never knew what a comedy talent Bev Callard was until I saw her in Two Pints of Lager and realised there was a lot more to her acting talents than being Liz McDonald. Until TV actors are there, on stage, live and up close and personal, you never really get that feeling of how good they actually are, what they're capable of. When we watch Corrie actors on Coronation Street five times a week, we become too comfortable with their characters, I think, and often fail to see the person behind the character, knowing that they're capable of acting their Corrie socks off if only the writers and powers that be would let them.
Anyway, I haven't enjoyed a theatre show like this in a very, very long time.
Check out the website here as the show's on UK tour.