Judy Garland’s story to be brought to life at the Hilton Arts Festival

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Judy Garland.

“WOULDN’T it be wonderful if we could all be a little bit more gentle with each other, and a little more loving, have a little more empathy, and maybe we would like each other a little bit more.”

Wise words from iconic screen and vaudeville actress Judy Garland, and ones which we should all heed as we navigate these troubled times.

Bringing to the stage Garland’s life story is East London’s Kerry Hiles, who will be performing at the Hilton Arts Festival at Hilton College this weekend.

She will share with audiences the tale of the five times married, complex, vulnerable and memorable Hollywood child star, musical theatre performer and singer, who died of an overdose at the age of 47 after a career spanning 45 years.

The versatile Hiles, whose busy life straddles two polar opposite worlds, that of farmer during the day and gala performer at night, said: “I love it. I’m never bored — also, I’m never well-rested!

“It has interesting moments: I attended a festival where, during the day I’d sell cheese in a silly cowboy hat and at night, sing at a gala dinner.

“Patrons told me that my face was very familiar, and they weren’t sure why … until the next morning when I was back in my silly hat and they could make the connection.”

Hiles, whose brother is the popular Durban actor Bryan Hiles, lives on a smallholding just outside East London, close to the Gonubie Farmer’s Hall.

“I wouldn’t say we actively farm anything really, although we have a flock of dairy goats; three different varieties to test which are most suited to our unique Eastern Cape environment.

“And I have a tenant who is a whizz at growing veggies and flowers.

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Kerry Hiles

“On the farm are four ancient citrus trees, remnants of days gone by. They have some interesting hybrid fruits which peel like naartjies, smell like limes and taste like lemons. I’m sure with the right marketing we could do well with this strange fruit.”

Speaking about performing at Hilton for the first time, Hiles said: “It feels like I am always on stage. Just last weekend I was performing at Hemingways in East London, and now for the very first time I am heading to Hilton.

“The Hilton Arts Festival has just never fallen into my schedule before. I suspect that after experiencing this year’s fest, I may move heaven and Earth to attend, and hopefully perform, annually.”

A Star is Born: the Rise and Fall of Judy Garland, can be see on September 13 at 6 pm and September 14 at 2 pm, in the band room at the Hilton festival.

Tickets are R100. For more information on the show and to book seats, go to http://www.hiltonfestival.co.za You can also book at the box office at Hilton College. Phone 033 383 0126 or e-mail theatre@hiltoncollege.com for more information on the show.

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