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BWW Review: Rosemary Loar Soars to Jazzy Heights In CLOSE ENOUGH FOR LOVE

The musical theater veteran's latest show overflows with theatrical storytelling and sensational jazz vocals.

BWW Review: Rosemary Loar Soars to Jazzy Heights In CLOSE ENOUGH FOR LOVE

MetropolitanZoom has sure come a long way since I tuned in last year to see Danny Bacher's show, let me tell you. I was very impressed by the quality of the virtual cabaret that Bernie Furshpan created in the early days of the pandemic so that artists and audiences could connect long distance while isolating, especially with the artists working from the safety and privacy of their homes. So when I tuned in last night to see Rosemary Loar's show CLOSE ENOUGH FOR LOVE and saw a full studio set up with musicians and multiple cameras (including one above the keyboards to show Frank Ponzio's hands working the keys), I was sorry more people hadn't invited me to their shows during the last year... especially when Rosemary kicked it into gear for hers, which was an absolute pleasure to watch.

Clocking in at about an hour, Ms. Loar's show is the perfect cabaret theater length, and it is plain to see that this is an evening designed for houses like Don't Tell Mama or the Laurie Beechman Theatre. With a theme, a pithy script, and a variety of musical styles, Rosemary and co. have created a club act with fluidity, humor and humanity - all the things an audience wants in their cabaret show. And don't forget the fine music, too, because Rosemary Loar certainly provides plenty of that.

Playing to a Zoom audience that topped out at Seventy-six people (from places as far away as Spain and the UK), Ms. Loar's show is her examination of "dating in the middle ages" and, more specifically, online dating. Loar discusses her reluctance to date, her decision to date, and, finally, the experience of dating through apps like Through a script crafted to sound spontaneous (but too concise to be extemporaneous) and songs scrupulously arranged by musical director Ponzio, Loar delivers unto the audience a spherical confection that reflects all the different aspects and reactions to dating life, whatever your age. More than once during the evening, Ms. Loar mentions her director, "Cabaret whisperer" Barry Kleinbort, and if ever there were a cabaret director who has a stamp, it is Mr. Kleinbort - and Close Enough For Love has that stamp all over it.

Barry Kleinbort has a reputation for working with great singing actresses, women like Anita Gillette and Karen Mason, structuring their club acts so that they do, indeed, tell a story, which is what Ms. Loar does with Close Enough For Love. Together, Kleinbort and Loar create pictures through monologues that lean into theatricality, the speeches orchestrated to draw the audience into the visual imagery, always with a punchline, whether it is one of pathos or humor. Kleinbort has a gift for not only creating a space for these singing actresses to be theatrical, but for giving them permission to be theatrical. In a world filled with reality and banality, theatrical storytelling is wildly important; it harkens back to a time when audiences didn't go to the movies to see natural acting - they went to see Bette Davis and Lana Turner BE bigger than life. That's the benefit of a Barry Kleinbort-directed show, and it's what the audience got at last night's display of the Loar-Kleinbort collaboration.

And Rosemary Loar's acting was on full display.

See, here's the thing about Rosemary Loar - she has a very pretty voice. It is a voice that is obviously trained to sing, and sing well. It isn't, though, a distinctive voice. There are the Lillias Whites and the Betty Buckleys, whose voices you would know if you were blindfolded and sitting in a nightclub. Rosemary Loar does not benefit from having a distinctive sound. She has as pretty a voice as any actress who has spent her life singing for her supper on the stages of theaters, cabarets, and concert halls. As one of those women, Rosemary Loar has had to learn to supplement her pretty voice with acting skills, with personality, with technique - and that is why her show is so enjoyable. Watching this lovely woman (with amazing arms, as one viewer pointed out in the Zoom chat window), use her training as an actress and as a singer, combined with her charming personality, to tell one story by telling thirteen stories, is as good as it gets on a cabaret stage. It's where the individuality of being a cabaret performer becomes the foundation of the performance - and Rosemary Loar has a great foundation.

Song after song, Ms. Loar demonstrates her versatility by singing everything from Eliza Doolittle to Bonnie Raitt, from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Paul McCartney. With Ponzio at the piano, she can accomplish anything, and with guest accordionist John DiPinto on particular numbers, Rosemary veers into old-world chanteuse territory. It is, though, when Tom Hubbard joins in on bass that the real meat of Rosemary Loar's style appears, and it's all about the jazz, baby. No matter how good she is on all the other numbers, when Rosemary Loar dives deep into Ponzio's jazz arrangements, something hot, steamy, sensual, and individual happens. Viewers can expect to chair dance during "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" and they will need someone by their side for "Midnight Sun" - for whatever reason is up to the home viewer, but one thing is for certain - it'll be a cozy one. Ms. Loar has a natural knack for jazz music, a knack that will be quite satisfying for any happy benefactor that is present to enjoy each and every time she is swaddled in jazz. Indeed, it is the opinion of this writer that her next show should eschew, completely, any song and any arrangement that does not showcase to perfection the sublime gift that she possesses when it comes to the sultrier side of singing.

Whether performing the show Close Enough For Love or a different act altogether, viewers should keep Rosemary Loar close, for with her nearby, fine times and sublime storytelling won't be far behind.

Visit the Rosemary Loar website HERE.

Visit the MetropolitanZoom website HERE.

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