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BWW Feature: TENDERLY at Music Theatre Of Connecticut

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BWW Feature: TENDERLY at Music Theatre Of Connecticut

Before Rosemary Clooney was famous for being George Clooney's aunt, Rosemary Clooney was an A-list performer herself - twice. Her incredible story is being performed in Tenderly, The Rosemary Clooney Musical, playing through October 3 at the Music Theatre of Connecticut.

The show was originally scheduled for production in November 2020, but strict COVID restraints prevented it from happening. Director, Executive Artistic Director, and Co-Founder of MTC Kevin Connors (www.kevin-connors.com) decided it would be the perfect show to open the 2021-2022 season. Clooney's personal and professional comeback is in line with MTC's reopening. MTC was one of the first three theatres in the country that was approved by Actors Equity to reopen after the most people got their vaccinations. MTC, founded in 1987, produces Equity shows featuring professional actors.

Back to Tenderly. "In a very odd twist," Connors says, "I went to junior high school with the writer [Janet Yates Vogt, who co-wrote it with Mark Friedman]. "Our careers have gone in different directions," he noted. Vogt and Freidman have written several other musicals. Tenderly, their newest one, has been produced previously in Connecticut and in regional theatres to rave reviews and standing ovations. Nick Clooney, Rosemary's brother, called it "the perfect arc of our lives."

This musical was pitched to MTC five or six years ago, but Connors didn't think they had a long enough rehearsal time to do the show to his exacting standards, even though the show's star, Susan Haefner (www.susanhaefner.com) was in the original Cincinnati Playhouse production. Connors had already had experience Off-Broadway, regionally, and with MTC, and had worked with major stars such as Joan Rivers, James Naughton, and Johnny Mathis. Nevertheless, the show stayed on his radar all these years. The show interweaves Clooney's greatest hit songs into the narrative of her life. The Kentucky born singer began performing with her sister, Betty, and became a Big Band and Hollywood star. She had a nervous breakdown while performing in front of an audience and battled depression and addiction to pills. She took off nine years for therapy and made a hugely successful comeback. "It's a phoenix rising from the ashes story," said Connors. The show's other performer is John Treacy Egan (www.facebook.com/officialjohntreacyegan), who plays multiple characters in Clooney's life, including her psychiatrist, Dr. Victor Monke, her mother, her sister, and her husband.

Connors is happy that "we're open and we're safe." He explains that MTC has worked with Actors Equity on safety protocol. In-person tickets are limited to 25 people, but every performance of the show will also be streamed. Everyone at MTC has been vaccinated and patrons are required to wear masks except at the bar, where they can eat and drink.

Tenderly plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday matinees t 2:00 p.m. Music Theatre of Connecticut is located at 509 Westport Avenue (Route 1) in Norwalk. The show is approximately 90 minutes plus a short intermission. For more information, call (203) 454-3883 or visit www.musictheatreofct.com.


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