BWW Review: ROSEMARY LOAR: EVERYTHING'S COMING UP ROSIE at Don't Tell Mama
When Rosemary Loar was but a little girl, a fortuitous event changed her life: her mother came home to their house in New Jersey with a cast recording of GYPSY tucked under her arm. It was a beacon of things to come.
Decades later, Ms. Loar might be considered the definition of a 'gypsy' herself (a word I know we aren't supposed to use anymore, but I hope Ms. Loar will indulge me: she is the epitome of a true theatrical survivor). With a career that has seen her treading the boards in five Broadway shows (and almost as many national tours), making appearances in regional theatres (hot and not so hot), and playing some of musical theatre's most stalwart leading ladies, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the actress-singer-dancer-songstress decided to come center stage and bring them all together. In her new cabaret show, EVERYTHING'S COMING UP ROSIE at Don't Tell Mama, that is precisely what Ms. Loar has done.
Tall and slim with long limbs and a bobbed haircut, Ms. Loar might be what Sally Bowles had become, had she ever grown up. With a big voice - often steely, occasionally strident, and at its best in a jazz-infused purr, Loar tackles an ambitious set-list; a dozen and a half of Broadway's most challenging show tunes, interjecting (with a somewhat naughty playfulness) the tales that have made her life upon the wicked stage of interest.
Opening with a whispered treatment of "Lullaby of Broadway" from 42ND STREET, a show for which Ms. Loar taught herself to tap dance in just six months before landing the gig (she had the right haircut), Loar uses story and song to recount memorable tales of auditioning for Glenn Close's understudy in SUNSET BOULEVARD ("With One Look") and working on the ill-fated original Broadway production of CHESS (the mostly straight cast took the sexual romp, "One Night in Bangkok" at face value).
There are moments out of town: playing Mama Rose in GYPSY inevitably would become an unexpected dream role ("Everything's Coming Up Roses), and a production of MAME gave the chance for Loar to fall in love with the title character and the song "If He Walked into My Life," if not the stock theatre's stage crew, who occasionally would push her on stage in the wrong costumes.
Ms. Loar relives the moments of forgetting lyrics, (how does one begin the song "Memory" from CATS when you've performed it over 300 times?) and she shares about industrial shows, which gave Loar the chance to learn the lesson: don't lie about having a high E (to sing Christine's material in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) unless you have a vocal teacher with a trampoline to help you magically find it.
A tad aloof as a performer, Loar (along with Frank Ponzio, Music Director / Pianist and Tom Hubbard, Bass) presents much of the musical material here straightforwardly, with occasionally mixed results. In truth, Loar is at her strongest when reinventing. Rethought and re-orchestrated material like "One of a Kind," (interpreted here as a bluesy female take on the title character of THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS) and "Broadway Baby" (the go-to favorite from Sondheim's FOLLIES, given the baby-doll squeak) show her artistry to strongest effect.
Early in the evening, Loar recounts the amusing tale that when her parochial middle school did MY FAIR LADY, she was selected to play...the piano: this because she had been taking lessons for an entire year. Closing with a joyful, swinging take on " I Could Have Danced All Night" in EVERYTHING'S COMING UP ROSIE, it becomes a full circle moment. Rosemary Loar has come a long way from that little girl listening to her mother's cast recordings... that gypsy in her soul a tried and true trouper - and in the spotlight at last.
Rosemary Loar: EVERYTHING'S COMING UP ROSIE
Barry Kleinbort - Director
Frank Ponzio - / Musical Director / Pianist
Tom Hubbard - Bass