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Fringe Review: Ingenue: Deana Durbin, Judy Garland and the Golden Age of Hollywood

By Mer Weinhold on June 18, 2019

Ingenue: Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland and the Golden Age of Hollywood
by Melanie Gall
60mins / PG / Solo / Musical / Historical

Do you know who Deanna Durbin was? Or that, at the height of her career, she was more famous than her contemporary Judy Garland? I certainly didn’t, and I had a wonderful time learning about her in this show. But if you do, you might enjoy Ingenue, a creation of Melanie Gall’s, even more than I did.

Ingenue tells the story of Edna May (later Deanna) Durbin’s life through the lens of a reporter visiting her at home in Paris after her retirement. The reporter asks the actress to comment on her professional and personal relationship with Judy Garland. “We weren’t rivals,” Durbin insists, and then explains how the two met, how they became friends, and how their lives and careers eventually diverged. Each chapter of the story is paired with a song—many from the time period, but a few operatic pieces as well, which showcase Gall’s spectacular singing.

Each chapter of the story is paired with a song—many from the time period, but a few operatic pieces as well, which showcase Gall’s spectacular singing.

Of the Fringe plays I’ve seen in Academic Hall so far this year, Ingenue makes the best use of the stage. The set is simple—a table, a chair, a bench, and a microphone and music stand—with a Victrola, a couple of records, and a few framed photos comprising the props. The costuming is simple and effective as well: Gall adds a jacket or cardigan to depict Durbin at different ages, making flashbacks to different times in her life easy to spot.

For some of us, the genre tags ‘Historical’ and ‘Musical’ are all we need to know we’re going to like a play. I was delighted to be in such an appreciative and enthusiastic opening night audience, who applauded nearly every song throughout the show and gave a standing ovation at the end.

Ingenue is a charming, beautifully polished show that exposed me to a snippet of history I’d had no idea existed. I highly recommend this play to everyone. Whether or not the historical aspect is of interest to you, Melanie Gall’s singing is a sublime experience that should not be missed.


Ingenue: Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland and the Golden Age of Hollywood by Melanie Gall is playing at Academic Hall (133 Seraphin-Marion) until Sunday, June 23, 2019. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.


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