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Exploring the relationship of Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli in new Hope Mill show

Experience the magic of Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli in 'Judy & Liza,' a captivating new show featuring powerhouse performances by Emma Dears and Helen Sheals
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Emma Dears

When West End performer Emma Dears was told she looked and sounded like Liza Minnelli, her whole life changed.

She decided to create the show Judy and Liza, which is set against the backdrop of their infamous 1964 London Palladium concert.

Emma plays Liza Minnelli and Helen Sheals plays Judy Garland and it features all the songs that fans know and love, including Cabaret, The Trolley Song and Maybe This Time.

We caught up with Emma to find out more about the show and what you can expect.

How did you come up with the idea for this show?

Judy Garland was the reason I wanted to perform, I loved watching her films when I was growing up and they had a massive impact on me.

When I was working in the West End, people used to compare me with Liza Minnelli (because I looked and sounded like her) and the fact that these two incredible performers were Mother and Daughter fascinated me.

It was my original plan to make it a one-woman show but then I realised that the interaction between the two is what makes the story so interesting.

So, Judy & Liza were born.

Why do you think these two women have endured for so long, in terms of their popularity?

I think the fact that they both have such massive powerhouse voices but also they are unafraid to show how vulnerable they are.

This makes for stunning and memorable performances. Also, let’s face it they have had fascinating lives and loves.

If you could pick a top four in terms of songs (two for Liza and two for Judy) what would you choose and why?

Liza – Maybe this Time, because it so accurately reflects Liza’s relationships through the years and is brilliant to sing Sorry I Asked (a lesser-known song) which is heartbreaking, and it is almost spoken throughout, and this is perfect to show Liza’s acting ability.

Judy – Over the Rainbow, of course, and this goes without saying.

And The Man That Got Away because it showcases Judy at her concert best.

How do you both avoid simply impersonating these icons? What do you both bring which is a part of you or something you have noticed?

We don’t describe ourselves as impersonators.

We both have a huge amount of respect for both Minnelli and Garland, so obviously we aim to be as similar as possible, but it always comes from a place of truth.

We have tried to pick up on the nuances of the mother/daughter relationship and the complexities that this brings.

The Hope Mill Theatre is an intimate venue. How will this suit the production?

We can’t wait to perform our show at The Hope Mill because it will feel like the audience is with us. The show works in all kinds of venues and formats but where we like it best is in intimate spaces. When you can hear people laughing and crying along with you, it’s a great feeling.

What do you love about Manchester?

I lived here for a year, 20 years ago, right near Canal Street. I love how diverse and multicultural it is.

Why would you encourage people to come to the show, what can they expect?

Judy & Liza takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, with incredible songs and powerhouse performances.

It is not to be missed!

Judy & Liza is at the Hope Mill Theatre from 28th May until 2nd June and you can book tickets here

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