Emmy-nominated Angela Ingersoll will give two performances of Get Happy: Angela Ingersoll Sings Judy Garland, on Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 7 pm and Sunday, January 13 at 4 pm at the Kahilu Theatre in Kamuela. Ticket info below.
I had the chance to catch up with Ms. Ingersoll by phone on a chilly day in Chicago and ask her a few questions about her upcoming Big Island performances.
What inspired you to do an ongoing tribute to Judy Garland?
The Judy Garland tribute has been ongoing my entire life. I started singing publicly on stage for people at the age of five, and the comparisons to Judy were always there, partially because of my tiny physical stature, my big brown eyes, and my crooked teeth. I think primarily because I was so darn loud. I like that old-style vaudevillian singing that she did and know there’s always been a likeness. I basically learned to sing by singing along with her records that were my favorite. I just got the way she sang and developed my musical taste and style that way. The likeness to her, though, has been very natural and very much a part of me.
What goes into preparation for your Garland tributes?
It’s been a lifetime of learning. Over the years I’ve done all of the research, watched all of the movies, and particularly the TV shows. I love the Carnegie Hall record. I love and listened to her daily every single day of my life. But even more than all of that, kind of, living with her as a voice in my head through those mediums, even more than that is the growing in my own personal life. Life lessons. I find that I’ve become more compassionate and able to tell a responsible story about this great artist as an artist myself as I’ve matured. I might have wanted to do this when I was a 25-year-old girl but really it wasn’t until I grew into a woman… I’m now 41-years-old, but most people think I’m in my 20s on stage because I’m so tiny (laughs). It wasn’t really until I grew into a woman who I felt I had the responsible voice needed to tell her story because hers is certainly one full of highs and lows — very bright peaks and some very dark valleys.
The struggles in my own family and loved ones with addiction, losing my own parents, and some of these harder knocks of life, some of the career rejections that I’ve turned into my own sort of triumph, and the learning curve of figuring out how to do that for yourself instead of having a pity party for yourself. It’s really these kind of life lessons that I think have truly prepared me to talk about an artist who was larger than life, who really suffered as much as she also spread joy.
Can you tell us about the content of your show?
A lot of the content comes from my PBS special, Get Happy… twenty-two songs in a two-act format, in which I tell stories about Judy’s life and also about my life, and how I came to become this person who gets to carry on her legacy. It’s a nice mix of personal aspect of storytelling with some trivia that you might not know. It’s the personal connection and storytelling that matters to me, and the songs that bring them to life and elevate them. I’m not in my estimation doing any sort of impersonation, I simply sound like her when I start singing… it’s not a play. I’m not trying to fool anyone into thinking I am Judy Garland. But over and over again people feel that they are with her, and when I shine a light on her, as I see it, in my heart, it seems to come out just like her.
I think that I have a uniquely qualified perspective for understanding her because I’m a woman and my own artist, who’s been doing this performing on stage professionally my whole life. Many of the people who do a tribute to Judy are sometimes men, drag queens, and they’re going to have a different perspective of what her impact was. Sometimes they’re folks who are poking fun. I think that my entire approach is completely grounded and honest, and has the compassionate love for how she paved the way for myself and artists like me.
We’re really looking forward to your two shows at the Kahilu Theatre. Thank you so much for your time today, Angela.
Thank you very much!
If You Go
What: Get Happy: Angela Ingersoll Sings Judy Garland
When: Two shows – January 12, 2019 at 7 pm and Sunday, January 13 at 4 pm
Where:Kahilu Theatre, Kamuela
Information:Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at (808) 885-6868, in person at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela, or online at kahilutheatre.org.
Visit Angela Ingersoll’s official website: http://angelaingersoll.com
Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and originally from San Francisco. He’s been featured in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.