SAN DIEGO – Acclaimed impersonator Michael Holmes will take the stage at Martinis Above Fourth tonight for “The Judy Show,” the next event in the MA4 Cabaret Series.
In the show, Holmes impersonates Judy Garland in her 1964 television variety show, with visits from many of her friends, including Carol Channing, Mae West, Billie Holiday, Bette Davis, Pearl Bailey and more. Holmes plays the part of all the characters in the musical comedy show, with each show being different from the last.
As a celebrated entertainer, singer and impressionist, Holmes has performed to sold out houses across the United States and Europe. He is excited to perform in San Diego for the first time. Residing in Palm Springs, Holmes splits his time between the both coasts, trying to fulfill his numerous performance bookings.
When asked how he got into the business of impersonating Hollywood legends like Garland, Holmes said that performing has always been in his blood.
“I always wanted to be a performer and pursued it intensely until I was 20 years old, when a prominent vocal coach told me I would never sing,” Holmes told San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. “Devastated, I went into business - I was successful but unfulfilled. Then eleven years ago, after losing several very dear people in my life in a very short period of time, I reevaluated my life and made a change. I left my career, sat on a beach for 6 months and decided I wanted to be happy. That meant performing and nothing else. Done.”
Holmes noted that he is the only student of that vocal coach who initially crushed his dreams that is actually making a living singing. “I might not, I quit studying with her,” Holmes said.
“The Judy Show” came about after Holmes was “dared” to dress as Bette Davis one Halloween.
“I did glamorous Bette from ‘All About Eve,’” Holmes said. “I won some contests and people who saw me do her asked me to assist in a Pediatric AIDS event and it snowballed from there. The show was originally called 'Bette & The Boys' and I had two male performers working with me.
“Eventually it became apparent that Bette couldn't really carry a whole show with music so I came up with the idea of formatting the show after Judy Garland and her 1964 Variety Show, with me playing Judy and all of her iconic guests. It works!”
Holmes said that he gets his inspiration from many Hollywood legends, such as Garland, Davis, Channing, Bailey, West, Holiday, as well as Katherine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, and Peggy Lee. Besides these icons, he said there are others in his life that he also looks to.
“So many marvelous talents have been an inspiration,” Holmes said. “Jim Bailey and Charles Pierce are two drag icons whom I admire greatly. Currently I am always amazed with Sharon McNight in LA, The Callaway Sisters (Liz & Ann Hampton), Christine Ebersole, and the list goes on and on. But mostly I am inspired by anyone who pursues their passion. That is a great way to live and makes the planet a little more joyful in my opinion.”
Laughing, Holmes recalled one performance he did where an audience member seemed to be a little taken aback that the Judy Garland she saw on stage was not the real Judy Garland.
“I was in the third or fourth number as Judy and a woman a few rows back stood up and, quite confused, yelled, ‘Hey! You're not really Judy Garland!’ and pulled a gun out of her purse,” Holmes said. “I tried to explain to her that, at the time, the real Judy Garland had been dead for almost forty years. Thank God security was able to land that crazy broad and carry her out of the theater!”
Other than not being able to bring the real Garland to tonight’s show, Holmes is certain that San Diegans will be delighted with the performance.
“People can expect an explosive night of comedy and song at this show,” Holmes said. “Everything is live - live accompaniment, live singing, live comedy and live interaction with the audience. It is riotous fun, irreverent, delightful and thoughtful, and it is never disrespectful.”
Tickets to the show are $15 and include reserved seating. Advance ticket purchase is required and there is a $15 food and drink minimum at Martinis Above Fourth.
Guests will be able to choose from Martinis Above Fourth’s full dinner and cocktail menus.
Showtime is 8 pm, with doors opening at 6:30 pm.
Martinis Above Fourth is located at 3940 Fourth Avenue, second floor, in Hillcrest.
For tickets or more information, click HERE.