BWW Review: TENDERLY at Florida Rep is Stirring and Splendid!
TENDERLY: THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY MUSICAL at Florida Repertory Theatre tells the beautifully bittersweet story of Rosemary Clooney through a variety of flashbacks, songs, and therapy sessions.
Susan Haefner played Rosemary Clooney, and she was absolutely phenomenal. She showcased the contrast between the façade Rosemary would put on and the traumas and struggles Rosemary faced behind the act flawlessly. Though her singing was, of course, excellent, I was even more impressed with her acting; she truly was Rosemary Clooney, and this allowed the audience to become fully immersed in her story.
Michael Marotta played The Doctor, along with several other roles, including Rosemary's sister, Betty, Bing Crosby, Dante DiPaolo, and more. It was very fun seeing him switch to another character with the changing of his glasses or the addition of a scarf; he also changed his tone of voice and his movements to fit each character, and the subtlety of it was brilliant and quite effective.
I thoroughly enjoyed how TENDERLY progressed. As Rosemary and The Doctor met for therapy sessions, they would switch to acting out a flashback of whatever they were talking about. This worked very well, and the audience got to understand and go more in-depth into her life because of this. TENDERLY also had a wonderful balance of more upbeat and happy songs, such as "Botch-A-Me" and "Mambo Italiano," and more languid, sometimes bittersweet songs, such as "Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair?" and "Tenderly."
Whether you know a lot or very little about Rosemary Clooney's life, I definitely suggest checking out TENDERLY at Florida Rep. There's so much more to this incredible story than just Rosemary Clooney's music career, and I have no doubt audiences will be inspired by the challenges she overcame to find happiness.
TENDERLY is playing in Florida Rep's ArtStage Studio Theatre now through February 24. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7 PM, Friday-Saturday at 8 PM, with 2 PM matinees on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. To buy tickets, you can visit www.floridarep.org, call Florida Rep at 239-332-4488, or stop by the box office at 2268 Bay Street, Fort Myers, FL, 33901.
Photo Credit: Joe Dafeldecker