There is nothing quite so intimate as a person’s journal, which is perhaps why it is so exhilarating to take a peek into one. To see someone else’s innermost thoughts, thoughts so precious they were recorded rather than left to float around in the ether of one’s mind and eventually vanish forever. Such thoughts are so private it is rare a person would willingly share them with strangers; however this is exactly what Rachel Juhasz is doing this March at the Butterfly Club. Her cabaret, My Judy Journals, is an honest presentation of excerpts from her diaries from the age of ten through to adulthood, accompanied by the soundtrack to her life: the songs of Judy Garland.
 
 My Judy Journals premiered at the Butterfly Club last year as part of The Way to Cabaret. “I’d never done anything like that before,” says Juhasz. “I just wanted to see if I could do it.” This time around Juhasz has extended the performance to an hour long performance, expanding on what she sees as the show’s journey.  When asked about the expansion process, Juhasz admitted she was scared at first. “It seemed so perfect [the first time],” she said. “I was scared I might somehow break it.” However after working through the process Juhasz is incredibly happy with the finished product and is positive the new version is going to be just as enjoyable as the original, perhaps even more so. “It’s more explanatory” this time round, she said.
 
The show centres around two main concepts: love and a life long obsession with Judy Garland. Juhasz describes her journals as dealing mostly with her experiences with love; from a young girl with Hollywood crushes, to longing for love in her teens, to the eventual heartbreak of finding “the one” and then losing them. Ever present on this journey are the songs of Judy Garland, the perfect soundtrack, according to Juhasz. “Some people have said that it seems almost as if the songs were written for the situation…they’re so perfect,” she says. “I’ve always been obsessed with [Judy]…I don’t know how it started.” As such, Juhasz was determined to stay true to the original stylings of Garland’s songs and says she’s sure people who are familiar with Garland’s music will find that her performance rings true to the songs’ original intentions, even though presented in an entirely new context.
 
Listening to Juhasz sing, it is clear where her main influences have come from and not at all surprising that she is keen to stay true to the original musical stylings of Garland’s songs. A rare voice in today’s theatre arena, Juhasz harnesses a very classic sound, truly influenced by the stars of the thirties and forties. Her sound is so uncommon in theatre today it is a refreshing change to hear someone who remains so true to their source of inspiration. It is wonderful to see that Garland’s influence has not just permeated Juhasz’ life and character, but has also assisted her own development as a performer.
 
Judy Garland had an extensive career on screen and stage and has become one of the world’s most well known female stars. However Garland struggled with insecurities about her appearance throughout her career, despite her talent. Juhasz reflects that while this was a difficulty for the star personally, it is perhaps part of what has made her so appealing. “Judy’s characters were never the glamorous ones,” Juhasz says. “She was more the girl next door…that was something I could really relate to.” On screen, Garland was the perfect inspiration and it is this ‘star personality’ that Juhasz was drawn to. Garland’s personal life was a different story. Divorced four times, financially unstable and reported to have problems with prescription drug addition and attempted suicide on several occasions, Garland’s offstage life was probably not the best model for a little girl searching for inspiration and hope.
 
Juhasz’ devotion to Garland and the positive influence her films and music have had on her, helping her through her own struggles in life, are an ode to the power of film and fantasy. Despite the star’s disastrous personal life, Juhasz found a beauty and comfort in Garland’s ‘star personality’ that provided her with hope and inspiration in her life. Her own life journey so far has been accompanied by Garland’s music and films and it is the image of Garland’s girl next door characters that has provided her with comfort through her own struggles with life and love. The plot of My Judy Journals may follow Juhasz’ experiences with love but it is clear that this show also demonstrates a love of performing and a love of her idol, Garland. There is an important place for all these loves in life and Juhasz shares them all with her audience. She opens up her life to us and let’s us see a little of every part of her and the things that are important to her and make her who she is.
 
My Judy Journals looks set to be a wonderful production full of honesty and soul; a beautiful recount of one girl’s experiences with love, but also of inspiration and hope. A show that appreciates the journey one takes through the different stages and types of love; this is a delightful peek into Juhasz’ life and heart. My Judy Journals is not to be missed.
 
My Judy Journals is playing at the Butterfly Club from March 11-14th. For bookings go to www.thebutterflyclub.com

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