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Judy, Judy, Peter

IMG  280 Who could possibly imagine a solo performance piece that’s 50% cross-dress celebrity impersonation and 50% poignant autobiographical play? Actor-singer Peter Mac came up with such an original notion, and he shares it with audiences in his moving and highly entertaining cabaret vehicle, “Becoming Judy,” which recently wrapped up a one-weekend run at the Gardenia restaurant/lounge  in Hollywood.

This multitalented young performer, originally from Elmont, a suburb of Long Island, New York, has been building his career around his fascination with the late beloved superstar Judy Garland.

 His meticulous impersonation of the iconic actor-singer provides Mac with the opportunity to conjure her essence. He does so brilliantly and with such warmth and grace, that it’s a cinch he will entertain wide-ranging audiences—even those rare individuals who might not be as familiar with the legendary star.

Musical director Bryan Miller on piano and drummer Kevin Widener provided terrific support for the witty and effervescent diva, who cracked jokes and shared anecdotes about her career. Some of the best songs in Garland’s smashing repertoire were included (such as “Swanee,” ‘The Trolley Song” and “Over the Rainbow”), and Mac launched into them with gusto and panache, capturing the aura of this showbiz legend, while impressing us with his vocal talents.

Peterweb0050 In the second half of the evening, this performer showed us the real Peter Mac, an attractive and charismatic young man, who told his harrowing but inspiring personal story of a terrified young boy who overcame severe gay-bullying and abuse from his father to evolve into the upbeat and gifted entertainer we see before us. He radiated a palatable aura of resilience.

As he shared his prodigious talents with us, there was a sense of jubilation at this point in his life journey.

Mac attributes the strength and courage he found to survive in his devotion to Garland, after he was introduced to her films and recordings when he was a child.

He used many of Garland’s famous songs at well-chosen points in this narration, allowing us to discover that he’s equally as affecting as a first-rate male singing artist as he is a dazzling female impersonator.

SoCal Stages_blog This latest Mac vehicle is a variation on other Garland-based pieces that he has done in the past, and there are more to come. In other offerings in his repertoire, he also mimics such celebrated showbiz divas of the past as Bette Davis, Mae West, Tallulah Bankhead, Liza Minnelli and more. (His “Judy & Company” will play at the Gardenia, October 7 and 8. Call 323-467-7444.)  Additional appearances by Mac are planned there for later in the year.

Also, on one Sunday of each month, he appears as Liza or Judy in “Resurrecting the Queen Mary” at Oil Can Harry’s in Studio City.

--Les Spindle

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Dear Peter:

You will be happy to know that the song you inspired in New York about ten years ago -- "Gender Illusionist" -- is now being performed in Phoenix by a 15 year old boy boy who is currently following in your footsteps as a Tribute Artist.

All Best Wishes.

Chuck Prentiss

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