By: May. 05, 2015

Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis' Department of Theatre & Dance, presents its first developing musical reading on the U of M mainstage with Tenderly, The Rosemary Clooney Musical by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Freidman on May 23 at 7:00 pm.

Tickets for the reading are just $15, or $10 for Students and Seniors.

Tenderly is the first of three developing musicals in TSC's inaugural Showplace Memphis: Musical Works in Progress.

Sponsored by one of Broadway's elite musical licensing companies, Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW) and President/CEO Steve Spiegel, based in New York City, Showplace Memphis has been devised as the next creative stage for three musicals en route to full productions in New York and on the regional theatre circuit across the U.S. The second and third musicals in Showplace Memphis are Midsummer Night (June 27) and The Oliver Experiment (August 15).

TRW has selected the musicals, and the Actors' Equity casts and directors are coming from all around the country and Memphis.

The Tenderly creators and cast will collaborate and rehearse at the U of M for ten days leading up to its reading. Though it will be going through both script and music changes, Tenderly will be played and sung in its entirety and with musical accompaniment on the U of M's mainstage. No other design elements (scenic/costumes/lights) will be integrated.

Tenderly's Memphis performance is generously sponsored by Pat and Thane Smith.

Audiences will have an opportunity to speak with the actors and creators of Tenderly immediately following its reading. Audiences also will inform the production by completing an audience survey that will help the creative team in future development phases.

Tenderly is based on the life of Rosemary Clooney, who was hailed as America's favorite girl singer, in this exhilarating and inspiring new musical biography. Her journey starts with her humble Midwest childhood and rise to Hollywood stardom, and continues beyond battles with depression to a triumphant comeback. Through it all, she topped the charts for nearly five decades with signature songs. Tenderly offers a remarkably personal and poignant picture of the woman whose unparalleled talent and unbridled personality made her a legend.

The show, which received rave reviews and a double-extension of its run in its second incarnation at Cincinnati Playhouse earlier this year, features many of Mrs. Clooney's signature hits, including "Hey There (you with the stars in your eyes)," "Tenderly," and "Come On-A My House."

Tenderly returns its popular Cincinnati Playhouse cast members, Michael Marotta and Susan Haefner (Broadway's State Fair, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and 42nd Street) and is directed by Kent Nicholson, who is the Director of Musical Theater at NYC's Playwrights Horizons. NYC new works veteran Matt Castle is the Musical Director.

Mrs. Clooney was born on May 23, 1928, in Maysville, Kentucky. She became a popular recording artist during the 1950s, known for her warm, engaging voice. She started out singing with her sister Betty on a Cincinnati radio show, and the two joined Tony Pastor's touring big band orchestra in 1946.

After her sister retired from singing, Mrs. Clooney went to New York to launch her solo career in 1949. Two years later, after signing with Columbia Records, she had her first No. 1 hit with "Come On-a My House." More hits followed, such as "Hey There," "This Ole House" and "Tenderly." She also appeared in feature films, including The Stars Are Singing (1953) and White Christmas (1954) with Bing Crosby. In the late 1950s, she had her own self-titled television show.

She experienced personal problems in the late 1960s, including a divorce from actor Jose Ferrer, medication addiction, and depression. She spent years recovering and rebuilding her career, starting out in small clubs and lounges. In the mid-1970s, she joined Bing Crosby on his final tour, which helped spur her comeback. She later signed a recording contract with the Concord Jazz label and married Dante DiPaolo, a dancer she had known from two of her films, in 1996.

Mrs. Clooney continued to record and perform, and in 2002 received a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Mrs. Clooney died from complications related to her battle with lung cancer on June 29, in Beverly Hills, CA. She had five children from her marriage to Mr. Ferrer.

In 2005, Tenderly creators Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman were named National Music Educators of the Year. Janet and Mark's first collaboration, Anne of Green Gables, has played at theatres across the country, including Village Theatre (WA), The Barter Theatre (VA), and the Victoria Theatre (OH). Janet and Mark's extremely popular musical adaptation of Melinda Long's best-selling children's book How I Became a Pirate, was commissioned by First Stage Theatre (Milwaukee) in 2008 and has been rollicking its way across many stages, including Cape Rep, the Des Moines Playhouse, Riverside Theatre, and Children's Theatre of Cincinnati. Their powerful and moving musical, Harriet and Sam, captures the times and events of pre- and post-Civil War America as seen through the eyes of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain. Janet and Mark also have penned a humorous, irreverent, and satirical look at married relationships with their musical cabaret, War Games: Marriage on the Front Lines. Their holiday show Ebenezer (a musical version of "A Christmas Carol") has been delighting audiences for the past five years. Sleepy Hollow: A Musical Tale, commissioned by Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, premiered on Halloween 2010 and has just been added to Columbus Children's Theatre upcoming season. For more information:

Matt Castle (Musical Director) has played, acted in, directed, and/or developed more than 75 new musicals at Sundance Institute, NYU, Playwrights Horizons, Weston Playhouse, O'Neill Center, Signature Theatre, York Theatre, Barrington Stage, NYMF, and CAP21. With Frank Galgano, he has created orchestrations for musicals and concerts at Kennedy Center, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Roundabout, Atlantic Theater Company, George Street Playhouse, ACT, Davies Hall, BC/EFA, TheatreworksUSA, Sacramento Theatre Company, and Waterfront Playhouse. As an actor/musician, he performed in the 2007 Broadway revival of Company, the original off-Broadway casts of Musical of Musicals, Enter Laughing, and LingoLand; Cincinnati Playhouse's Merrily We Roll Along; and Fiasco Theater's Into the Woods.

Susan Haefner* (Rosemary Clooney) returns to the role after a sold-out and extended run at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Her Broadway credits include State Fair, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and 42nd Street. Tours include Billy Elliot (national tour and Toronto) and Damn Yankees with Jerry Lewis (national tour and London's West End). Regionally, Susan has played leading roles at Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Barter Theatre, and Shaker Bridge Theatre. She received her MFA from Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training.

Michael Marotta* (Doctor, et al) comes to TSC fresh from The Music Man with the Cincinnati Pops, and happily returns to Tenderly having played the role at Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park. He created the role of Walter Winchell in the new musical Mr. Confidential at the Signature Theater in his hometown, NYC. Most recent credits: Herr Schultz in Cabaret (Rep Theater St. Louis); Huck in The Fantasticks; Sidney Bruhl in Deathtrap (Florida Rep); Billy Flynn in Chicago, Ben Hecht in Moonlight & Magnolias (Flat Rock Playhouse, NC). NY credits include Mad about the Boy, the centennial salute to Noel Coward, and Irving Berlin's Louisiana Purchase, both at Carnegie Hall. As a cabaret artist, Michael has twice been the recipient of both the MAC Award and the BACKSTAGE Bistro Award.

Kent Nicholson+ (director) most recently directed Long Story Short at Prospect Theater in New York. New York credits include Five Flights (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), Wet (Summer Play Festival), and Marry Harry (NYMF, American Theater Group). Regional: Light in the Piazza (South Coast Repertory), How to Write a New Book for the Bible (South Coast Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Seattle Repertory), Lizzie (Theater Under the Stars, Village Theater), Grey Gardens, Vincent in Brixton, Ambition Facing West, and All My Sons (TheatreWorks), Saint Ex (Weston Playhouse), 9 Circles, The Good German, and Jacques Brel (Marin Theater Company), Small Tragedy and Satellites (Aurora Theater Company). He created the New Works Initiative at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto and currently serves as the Director of Musical Theater at Playwrights Horizons.

* AEA member; + SDC member

Seating is general admission; first come/first seated. Tickets are just $15 and are on sale now. Students 22 and younger and Seniors 62 and older receive discounted $10 tickets.

Tenderly will be presented on the Mainstage inside the University of Memphis Theatre Building, which is located on the main campus at 3745 Central Avenue in Memphis, TN.

Purchase tickets in person Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm at TSC's office located at 3092 Village Shops Drive in Germantown, or by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to

The TSC Box Office inside the University of Memphis Theatre Building will begin selling tickets one hour prior to the performance on-site. Free parking is available in the Central Avenue parking lot, beginning at 7:00 pm, directly across from the U of M Theatre Building. No refunds. Cast is subject to change.