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Tenderly, the Rosemary Clooney Musical

a Play with Music
by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman

COMPANY : Georgia Ensemble Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Georgia Ensemble Theatre and Conservatory [WEBSITE]
ID# 5216

SHOWING : January 11, 2018 - January 28, 2018



Based on the life of Rosemary Clooney. GET will ring in the New Year with its second musical of the Silver Anniversary season, offering a fresh and poignant picture of the woman whose unparalleled talent made her a Hollywood legend. One golden hit after another is woven through Clooney’s compelling life story: “Come on-a My House,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “Count Your Blessings,” “Hey There,” “Mambo Italiano,” and so many more!

Director James Donadio
Dr. Victor Monke/Everybody Else Mark Cabus
Rosemary Clooney Rachel Sorsa
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


An Unhappy Life
by playgoer
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
"Tenderly" presents the life story of singer Rosemary Clooney, interspersed with renditions of her song hits, and centered around a breakdown she suffered in Reno, Nevada and her treatment in a psychiatric hospital. Rachel Sorsa portrays Ms. Clooney, sounding a lot like her and, in wigs, resembling her sufficiently. Mark Cabus plays her psychiatrist and every other person with whom we see her interact. Both roles require bravura performances, and Ms. Sorsa and Mr. Cabus are both clearly up to the challenge.

Jamie Bullins’ scenic design includes red walls with sconces upstage and archways and curtains on the sides to suggest elegant supper clubs and performance venues. The three-piece band is stationed just in front of the wall. Stage left we have a table and chair suggesting a dressing room, and center stage, on an angled rectangular platform, we have the psychiatrist’s office furnished in mid-century style. Scenes that don’t occur in these specific locations make use of the open downstage lip of the stage. It works well.

Connor McVey’s lighting design does a pretty good job of illuminating the action, although the actors sometimes seem to be playing right at the edge of a pool of light. John McKenzie’s sound design lets things be heard clearly. Costuming and choreography are nearly as successful, but not quite. Amanda Edgerton West’s costumes work well enough except for a blouse/skirt combo Ms. Sorsa wears at the start of the second act that isn’t very stylish and uses a skirt with an obvious, substantial hem. Arielle Gellar’s choreography is generally delightful until the final number, when "Mambo Italiano" has dance moves that, quite frankly, look ridiculous.

Director James Donadio has shaped the show to emphasize the dramatic elements of the story, causing the production to seem long. Mr. Cabus does a wonderful job of leavening the mood when he portrays Rosemary’s sister Betty in early memories, but this is the story of an unhappy life with only a glimpse of true happiness at the end. Songs tend to lighten the mood, since many of Ms. Clooney’s hits were light-hearted novelty tunes, but they just tend to underline the darkness of the life being lived behind the microphone.

Mr. Cabus does some marvelous instantaneous transformations from one character to another, using voice and body language to do a creditable Bing Crosby and transforming his face and voice to become Jose Ferrer. Ms. Sorsa centers the show with a heartfelt performance. That’s where the enjoyment of "Tenderly" resides. This is a show to see for the performances, which outshine the material. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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