BWW Reviews: ROSEMARY CLOONEY is Back!
Playhouse in the Park brings the "Girl Singer" home this holiday season with Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical. The show takes the audience on a journey from 'Rosie's' childhood to fame, to mental breakdown, to her comeback career; all through therapy sessions during which we are regaled with some of her most well known songs.
Susan Haefner opened the show in a stunning black dress, created by Bill Black, singing "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" by Irving Berlin, while standing in front a singular microphone accompanied by a single spot light. I thought I was watching Rosemary Clooney herself. Ms. Haefner did an incredible job at imitating Ms. Clooney's vocal brilliance and stage presence. I was able to lose myself in her songs, and as the youngest person in the audience I felt as though I was as close to seeing Rosemary in concert as I could ever get.
Susan Haefner's brilliance does not stop at her singing. Her raw portrayal of Rosie's life journey was fun but difficult and at times uncomfortable to watch (perhaps because Rosemary's brother Nick attended the same performance). The writers, Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman were able to seamlessly weave Rosemary's biggest musical hits through the telling of her life. However these therapeutic scenes could not have been possible without the emotional support and comedic timing of Michael Marotta who played Ms. Clooney's therapist, along with many other characters. Truthfully I can't even remember how many he played but some of my favorites were her Latin lover, her ex-husband, and her little sister.
The script is beautiful but without the individual talents and the chemistry of Marotta and Haefner the show would not have sung in such harmony. The special treat was their two-step dancing around the stage, created by Choreographer Dee Anne Bryll. When called for they sang beautifully together which was made possible by the 'big band', and the Musical Director Scot Woolley.
The show, which was originally scheduled to close December 28, 2014, will now run until January 4, 2015 so finish your holiday gift list by buying tickets before they sell out.
Photo Credit: GORDON DeVINNEY