Latham’s Curtain Call Theatre brings Judy Garland’s story to the stage

Jeannine Trimboli as Judy Garland in Curtain Call Theatre's "End of the Rainbow."

Jeannine Trimboli as Judy Garland in Curtain Call Theatre's "End of the Rainbow."

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Jeannine Trimboli remembers vividly the first time she saw Judy Garland on television. Like many other young children who watched “The Wizard of Oz,” for Trimboli, the experience did present some challenges.

“Oh my God, I think I ran out of the room terrified,” said Trimboli, who first saw the classic 1939 film in the late 1960s. “Those flying monkeys and the witch were so scary. I think I was in the third grade. I never really appreciated Judy Garland until I was in high school.”

Since then, she has become a true student of Garland’s career and one of her biggest fans. In Curtain Call Theatre’s production of “End of the Rainbow,” Peter Quilter’s 2006 play about the months just prior to Garland’s death in 1969, Trimboli has the opportunity to offer her take on one of the most iconic performers in American musical history.

“Judy was a lover, a fighter, a hopeless romantic who always tried to shoot for the stars,” said Trimboli, who begins her five-week run as Garland Thursday at Curtain Call in Latham. “Growing up, Judy and Barbra Streisand were the two performers I listened to the most. I would constantly listen to Judy Garland. I knew just about every song she ever did by heart by the time I went away to college.”

“End of the Rainbow” centers on Garland’s final public appearances, a series of cabaret-style performances in 1969 at Talk of the Town, a prominent nightclub in London. Phil Rice is directing the Curtain Call production that also includes Cameron Clarke Stevens as Garland’s piano player, Anthony, a fictional character, and Kerry Kazmierowiz Trimm as Mickey Dean, Garland’s fifth and final husband. William Wright Heatley rounds out the cast, playing three different roles.

“It’s a very tight ensemble cast, and working with them and Phil Rice has been a wonderful experience,” said Trimboli. “I worked with Kerry at the Bennington Community Theater in Vermont and it’s great to be working with him again. Cameron is my pianist, and he is not only a wonderful actor but a great musician, and William plays three different roles. We have a scene together in which he is a BBC interviewer and it’s a very important part of the show.”

“End of the Rainbow” marks the first time Trimboli and Rice, who both have long histories in the Capital Region theater community, have worked together. It’s also something of a return to the theater for Trimboli in the immediate Capital Region. While she was on a number of local stages in the 1990s, she stepped away from the theater for nearly two decades to raise four children. She began her comeback last summer at Home Made Theater in Saratoga Springs, and this summer has performed at Mac-Haydn in Chatham and the Ghent Playhouse in Columbia County. According to Rice, her portrayal of Garland is something musical theater fans won’t want to miss.

“People are going to be blown away because Jeannine is remarkable,” said Rice. “Not only her singing, which is great, but also her acting. This is a very demanding role. It’s an emotional roller coaster and she handles everything beautifully. And in the role she really looks a lot like Judy. It’s very easy to suspend your disbelief.”

Trimboli grew up in Ilion a few miles east of Utica and attended SUNY Fredonia, where she majored in musical theater. She married and moved to Albany in the 1990s, and helped Curtain Call founder Carol Max put on her first show back in 1997, landing a key role in Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women.”

Stage appearances followed at Albany’s Park Playhouse, Capital Repertory Theatre and Oldcastle in Bennington, Vermont. She also did her own one-woman show at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.

“At the time I was a young mom and by the time I had my fourth child I was a single mom, and it was very difficult to be a mother and do theater,” said Trimboli. “So I stepped away from the theater for about 20 years.”

Until 2020, Trimboli had been a fitness guru and professional powerlifting instructor with her own gym. With the onset of COVID-19, she retired from that business and got back into the theater. Having the opportunity to play Garland, her idol as a teenager, is a thrill.

“This play shows all the different sides of Judy,” said Trimboli. “People love her because of her amazing talent, but also because her story is one of so many triumphs. She fights her way back from rock bottom so many times, and these shows in London were another opportunity for her to revamp her career.”

Despite all the setbacks in her personal and professional life, Garland never lost her sense of humor, according to Trimboli.

“Even in her most tragic moments, Judy was funny,” said Trimboli. “She always looked for the humor in things and at times she was self-deprecating. She wanted to make people laugh and to put them at ease. But there were other aspects of Judy that weren’t so flattering. In this show, people see her as the whole person.”

Trimboli performs many of the songs most associated with Garland’s career, including “Over the Rainbow,” “The Man That Got Away” and “Come Rain or Come Shine.”

The hard work of creating the musical arrangements for the songs in the show belonged to Stevens.

“The show is not a musical and the script doesn’t come with a score,” said Rice. “All they do is tell you what songs to use, so along with acting and playing the piano, Cameron served as our musical director. He listened to a bunch of Judy’s songs and did all the arranging. I couldn’t do that. He is remarkable, and he’s also one of the nicest guys I know.”

“I get to do a lot of belting in this show, true Judy-style,” said Trimboli. “It’s been a real team effort and a treat working with these three guys, and this is the first time working with Phil and he’s been wonderful. I’ve been in a lot of productions, but I think this is really going to be a special show.”


‘End of the Rainbow’

WHEN: Opens Thursday and runs through Sept. 24; performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; there will be one Saturday matinee at 3 p.m. on Sept. 16

WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 1 Jeanne Jugan Lane, Latham


MORE INFO: Call (518) 877-7529 or visit


Elsewhere in local theater

Opening this weekend at the Albany Civic Theater is Sam Shepard’s 1979 Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Buried Child,” which takes a macabre look at one American Midwestern family with a very dark secret.

There will be a pay-what-you-will preview Thursday night at 7:30 before the show opens Friday night and runs for three consecutive weekends. Evan Jones is directing.

‘Buried Child’

WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Sept. 24; performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Albany Civic Theater, 235 Second Ave., Albany

HOW MUCH: $21.05-$12.51

MORE INFO: Visit or call (518) 462-1297

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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