Judging JUDY, at NJ Rep

Pheonix Vaughn (right) is the Oscar winning comic actress Judy Holliday — and Adam Harrington is anyone from Jimmy Durante to Orson Welles — as JUST IN TIME: THE JUDY HOLLIDAY STORY makes its Garden State debut at New Jersey Repertory Company. (photos courtesy SuzAnne Barabas)

It was just a few months ago that New Jersey Repertory Company — the Upper Wet Side’s only playhouse dedicated entirely to new and challenging works for the stage — premiered a little show called Puma; a look at the life, loves and legacy of the late Marlene Dietrich that the theater critic for the Asbury Park Press (ahem, us) hailed as “a brief and shining portal into a bygone world of backlit luster, sparkling repartee and extraordinary personalities who crackled with charisma…at the very least, it’s something to dress up for.”

Here in the season of dressing down for the weather, the NJ Rep team offers us get-a-life fans of golden-age Broadway and Hollywood another platinum-plated star to ooh and aah over — this one a portrait (in dialogue, memory vignettes and song) of a blonde (smart)bombshell who’s nonetheless not so much of a household name these days: the dynamic Judy Holliday.

The performer who took home a Tony (as Best Lead Actress in a Musical) for Bells Are Ringing may not ring too many bells with the millennials these days, but when you consider her most lasting legacy — the peroxide perennial Born Yesterday, and her role in turning the whole dumb-blonde archetype on its bleached head — the salvaging of Judy Holliday’s public profile comes just in time. As in Just in Time: The Judy Holliday Story, previewing this week and opening July 9 in Long Branch.

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