by Kevin Shaw | photo courtesy of Angela Ingersoll
Back in the early 1990s Angela Ingersoll came to Memphis to work as an acting intern at Playhouse on the Square where she earned next to nothing to hone her craft. I had the privilege of directing her in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and I knew she was something special. When she announced she’d be moving to Chicago to further her career, I had high expectations, but then Ingersoll exceeded everyone’s expectations (except possibly her own) after starring in End of the Rainbow at the Porchlight Music Theatre and winning the Jeff Award for Best Actress in a Play.
After rave reviews detailing her frighteningly uncanny resemblance to Judy Garland (both physically and vocally),
Ingersoll has taken the show to Los Angeles, shot a PBS special and will be bringing Get Happy: Angela Ingersoll
sings Judy Garland to the Germantown Performing Arts Center in September.
So, how did Judy Garland enter your life?
Ingersoll: This was completely of my own making. This is me deciding that I’m not going to censor the thing inside of me that I have wanted to do more than anything in the world. This is me saying, “If I’m going to show you my real heart, I just want to do this!” I’ve been compared to Judy Garland since I was 4 or 5 years old because I learned to sing by singing along with her and imitating her. I’ve just been compared to her my whole life because there are so
many physical similarities—she was 4’11” and I’m 5 feet tall; I have the exact same overbite with the same crooked teeth; we even have the exact same skull and a hump on the backs of our necks.
I’ve known you for 15 years and It wasn’t until recently that I realized just how eerily you do actually resemble her.
That’s because I kept it hidden. I always thought, “How dare would I tell people that I feel like Judy Garland is a part of me because she was just so damn talented, and who am I to announce that I come close to that talent?” So, I hid from that…that thing that was in my heart for many, many years.
Your resemblance to her now—physically and vocally—is a bit shocking. Do you believe in reincarnation?
People have asked me that. I believe her spirit is definitely sitting on my shoulder kicking me around. I do believe she
talks to me sometimes and I try to listen. I have had the good fortune of becoming good friends with her only son, Joey Luft. When I first met him, I could sense that Judy was a part of this cosmically and I could hear her saying, “Take care of my son, Joey. Be kind to him.”
I know your concert recently aired on WKNO as part of their fundraising drive and now you’re bringing your show to the GPAC in September!
Correct! It’s a show I put together myself. It’s not a play, it’s a concert. I’m very much myself in that I tell stories about my life and I tell stories about Judy’s life. People will get to know Judy Garland through the lens of me. Not to ‘toot my horn’ too loudly, but I’m an expert on everything Judy. I’m like the “tour guide” of her life and music.
Can you ever see yourself moving to Las Vegas and being a Judy Garland impersonator?
I don’t think of myself as an impressionist or impersonator, but if there’s an audience for people who get goosebumps
hearing me sing like Judy Garland, then absolutely I’d do that. But, I wouldn’t do it as a “magic trick” just trying to fool
people. I’m me. In the concert, the lines blur a lot whether I’m being her or I’m being me and I think that’s even more
enchanting for an audience to witness.