History of "Judy's Scary Little Christmas"
Webber and David Church met as students at Emerson
where they began their writing collaboration.
After separately migrating to Los Angeles, Church worked in advertising and sold screenplays while Webber, a
treasurer at a variety of
legitimate theatres (including the Hollywood Bowl), moonlighted as a
designer for the Equity Waiver theatre scene.
Reunited, they continued their collaboration and in 1997 began
work on JUDY’S SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS.
In September of that year, armed with a sixty-page script with
no songs, they presented a living-room reading to friends and
associates – featuring local cabaret performer Julie Sheppard as
by the enthusiastic response, Webber and Church expanded their
script and began to search for a composer and lyricist who
could provide the score to complete their play with music.
Actress Kimberly Price (who had played Joan Crawford in
Church’s living room reading) suggested Joe Patrick Ward, a
talented songwriter whose clever revue, THE GRAVE WHITE WAY
had recently enjoyed a successful run at the Hollywood
A musical parodist with a wicked sense of humor, Ward
proved a savvy choice when he delivered an original “spec”
song, ‘Ever Been in Love?’ – an unlikely holiday love
duet for Richard Nixon and Lillian Hellman.
fall, with a portfolio of eight songs, Joe Pat and the writers rounded
up a cast of performers (including Julie Sheppard, the outrageous
Jason Graae as Bing Crosby and Craig Wasson as Richard Nixon) and
spent a weekend in a
recording studio producing a CD demo to sell the show to producers and
with no concrete production in the offing, the collaborators decided
to stage a reading of the show in
in January of 2000. Church
contacted Broadway director (and fellow Emerson alumnus), Leonard
Foglia, of the recent Terrance McNally hit MASTER CLASS, and
Webber booked the
for the reading. While the
challenge of casting the roles of famous celebrities proved initially
daunting, the auditions conducted by Charles Rosen & Associates,
uncovered a dazzling array of
talent, including Isabel Keating who played Judy Garland, Jan Maxwell
who channeled Joan Crawford, and A CHORUS LINE veteran, Kelly Bishop,
as Lillian Hellman. Despite
an unexpected blizzard, the readings were well-attended and the
audiences responded resoundingly.
Christmas" Second Reading in NYC:
left: (back row) David Church, James Webber,
Patrick Ward, Director Leonard Foglia.
row) Isabel Keating (Judy), Kristine Zbornik (Ethel Merman).
early December 2000, Mr. Foglia helmed a second reading of the show,
this time sponsored by the play development arm of The Barrow Group and
presented at the Arc Light Theatre on 71st Street in
. Last-minute rewrites featured a
brisker, more entertaining second act, and Isabel Keating repeated her
performance as Judy Garland. “Judy”
received an overwhelming response and a surprise rave review on
Theatre.com, in which their critic predicted a
production within the year. While
the anticipated production didn’t materialize, a canny casting agent
in the audience snatched up Ms. Keating to play Judy opposite Hugh
Jackman’s Peter Allen in THE BOY FROM OZ, for which she received a
Tony Nomination in 2003.
post-9/11 autumn of 2001 in
was no atmosphere in which to mount a new show, so Webber, Church and
Ward began the groundwork to create a
production of the show. Ward’s
revue, THE GRAVE WHITE WAY had featured an outstanding performance by
another CHORUS LINE alumnus, the dynamic performer/ choreographer Kay
Cole. Ward presented her
with the “Judy” script and she quickly agreed to direct and
choreograph the show. Strategic
advice was sought and obtained from
theatrical producer, Eileen T’Kaye and respected press representative,
Tim Choy. With the three
collaborators as producers, a budget was raised, production staff hired,
auditions held, cast rehearsed and JUDY'S SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS had its
world premiere at the Victory Theatre in Burbank on November 17, 2002.
original set design concept for
Scary Little Christmas"
the leading role was none other than
San Francisco’s popular cabaret icon and actress, Connie Champagne.
Sparse preview audiences quickly grew to packed houses as word of
mouth guaranteed a sell-out of the final weeks of the limited run.
In only 22 performances, the creators/producers earned back their
entire investment, as well as rave reviews from the
following February, the LA Weekly nominated JUDY'S SCARY LITTLE
CHRISTMAS the Best Musical of the
Year, and in September, the show was nominated Best World Premiere
Musical and Connie Champagne for Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a
Musical by the prestigious L.A. Stage Ovation Awards.
Up against such Broadway names as Rachel York and Carolee
Carmello, Connie Champagne won the Ovation for her celebrated
original "Judy" cast reunites for
second engagement in West Hollywood.
December of 2003, JUDY re-opened in
at The Court Theatre on La Cienega Boulevard for a second limited
holiday engagement, surpassing its earlier success both critically and
financially. The authors
also licensed the first regional production of the show, presented by
Triangle Productions in
in December 2003 for which Tony James (as Judy Garland) shared the local
“Drammy” award for his performance with fellow leading man, William
Hurt, for “Richard III.”
Patrick, David and Jim reunited the Los Angeles
company to record an original cast album – at last!
The CD was released in November, 2005.
then, “Judy” has been produced by Stage West in
Iowa, by Hell in a Handbag productions in
Illinois, by the Transport Theatre in Venture,
California and by the Music and Drama Company in Nashua, New
in late 2009, SAMUEL FRENCH, INC., the nation's leading publisher of
plays and musicals, acquired "Judy's Scary Little Christmas"
for their catalog. "Judy" is now available for
productions all over the country and the world!
Champagne as Judy Garland
ANGELES PREMIERE COMPANY
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2002