A Critic's Notebook: WABE's John Lemley to venture 'Over the Rainbow'

Get Happy!


John Lemley, the velvet-voiced host of WABE 90.1's City Café, is getting ready to announce some big news about Judy Garland.

No, the popular radio host hasn't lost his mind. Lemley will actually be playing the supporting role of "Radio Announcer" (venturing a bit outside his range?) in the new Actor's Express play End of the Rainbow, which dramatizes the last days of screen legend Judy Garland.

We love City Café almost as much as we love Judy Garland, so you can imagine how excited we were to see Lemley's name in the credits of the new show which opens this weekend. His presence had us secretly hoping that it might be WABE's Lois Reitzes taking on the lead role, but as it turns out, Garland will be played by actress Natasha Drena. Drena has played Garland before in Georgia Ensemble Theatre's 2007 production of Beyond the Rainbow (a different play with a similar title about the same subject).

? ? ?
This new drama by British playwright Peter Quilter was a hit when it ran in London and New York in 2012. Here's the elevator-pitch description of End of the Rainbow from the Actor's Express press release:

It's December 1968, and Judy Garland makes one last stab at a comeback. In a London hotel room with her young new fiancee, pills and cocktail at her side, Garland prepares for a series of high profile concerts. Garland's razor sharp wit, mammoth talent and raw determination battle with her inner demons to create a tornado of drama as she tries to reclaim her crown as the greatest talent of a generation. Featuring many of Garland's signature anthems, including "The Man that Got Away," "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

End of the Rainbow previews from May 14. The show opens Sat., May 17, and runs through June 15. For more info, visit Actor's Express.



Congratulations are in order for Atlanta-based opera star David Daniels, who recently announced his upcoming wedding to partner Whitney Walters. The ceremony will take place in Washington, D.C., on June 21, and reportedly, it will be officiated by none other than Supreme Court Justice (and diehard opera fan) Ruth Bader Ginsburg! Mazel tov, boys!

Atlanta opera fans curious to check out more of Daniels' work will have the chance to do so not long after the couple's big day. The Metropolitan Opera will re-broadcast the renowned countertenor's fantastic performance as Prospero in the Baroque neo-pastiche The Enchanted Island to Atlanta movie theaters on July 16 at 7 p.m. The re-broadcast is part of the Met's Summer Encore series, which brings back popular broadcasts to cinemas worldwide on Wednesday nights during the summer. For more info, visit the Met.


Speaking of opera broadcasts, this weekend offers a great opportunity to check out the legendary Placido Domingo in Verdi's Nabucco. The screening actually repeats a live broadcast that was shown to the rest of the world on May 7 (Better late than never, Atlanta!). Nabucco screens on Thurs., May 15, at 6 p.m. and on Sun., May 18, at 12 p.m. at CineBistro in Brookhaven and on Sun., May 18, at 11 a.m. at the Midtown Art Cinema.