Experience a tribute to a legendary performer with “You Made Me Love You: The Music of Judy Garland” at Raue Center For The Arts this weekend! Melissa Minyard’s breathtakingly beautiful voice and compelling storytelling will bring the music of Judy Garland to life with a four-piece band at 3 p.m. on September 8th!
From “Les Miserables” on Broadway to performances around the world, Minyard has captured hearts with her amazing voice and intimate connection with her audience. Her impressive career as a professional singer an actor spans over 20 years and includes roles starring opposite Tony Award winners Sutton Foster, Terrence Mann, Shuler Hensley and more.
“I lived in New York City for the better part of 10 years, where I was cast in the national touring company of ‘Les Miserables,” says Minyard. “[I] later joined the Broadway company, where I worked until the show’s initial closing in 2003.”
Minyard has since returned to her home state of Florida, where she has performed at regional theatres, concerts and special events across the state, from Miami to St. Petersburg. It was in St. Petersburg that Minyard first appeared as Garland in Peter Quilter’s musical drama, “End of The Rainbow” at freeFall Theatre.
“The production focuses on the last six weeks of [Garland’s] life during a concert run at the London Palladium,” explains Minyard. The following year, Minyard returned to Garland in a production of “Babes in Hollywood” at the Winter Park Playhouse in Orlando.
“[It] is a much lighter treatment of Judy’s life and career alongside Mickey Rooney,” she says of the latter production. Although Minyard shares she “honestly never thought of [herself] as someone who could step into those shoes,” the role of Garland was a better fit for her than she anticipated, and she feels strongly connected to the iconic performer.
“Both of those experiences connected me to the dynamic of her life, and certainly the music she recorded,” she says. “I’ve always been drawn to old school music. I love the melodies and orchestrations that commonly surround them. It’s so rich and full and so much fun to sing.”
After performing in these shows, which were met with strong critical acclaim, Minyard began to think she should make something of the connection she had formed with Garland and her legendary body of work.
“The biggest challenge has been to decide which music to include in a 90-minute or so time frame,” Minyard says of creating “You Made Me Love You.” “There is so much material to choose from between her movies, albums, guest appearances and her own television show.”
With “You Made Me Love You,” Minyard has tried to incorporate some of Garland’s most iconic songs, also pulling from her iconic performance at Carnegie Hall in 1961.
“Judy loved to sing jazz, in fact she was one of the first American singers to incorporate a swing sound in popular music,” says Minyard. “Her arrangements are fabulous. My Music Director Joey Zymonas and I are certainly borrowing from that,” she continues. “Some of the songs in the program are unmistakably [Garland’s], and others may come as a surprise that she recorded them,” she says.
Audiences will enjoy breathtakingly beautiful music along with compelling storytelling from Minyard as she pays tribute to Garland’s legendary music as well as her heart and humor.
“My intention is not to imitate Judy so much as to honor her amazing legacy,” says Minyard.
Tickets to “You Made Me Love You: The Music of Judy Garland” start at $25.To learn more, please visit rauecenter.org.