Tuesday, November 1, 2016

CT Theater Review: Tenderly -- Ivoryton

Michael Marotta and Kim Rachelle Harris. Photo:Anne Hudson
Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Story
By Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman
Directed and Choreographed by Brian Feehan
Ivoryton Playhouse
through Nov. 13

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
Well, like the title says, it's the Rosemary Clooney story, complete with some of the tunes she made famous, like "Come On a My House," It's Only a Paper Moon," "Count Your Blessings," Mambo Italiano" and the title song, "Tenderly," among others (Music Direction is by Daniel Brandl.

If you're thinking juke-box musical, it is, in a way, but the songs all seem to belong and there is lots of story here.  Kim Rachelle Harris is a very likable Rosemary with a nice singing voice who helps us get to know the singer whose career was nearly sidelined by a dependence on pills. She captures the sadness of a woman trying to keep up her public image while falling apart in private. Harris also finds her character's bravery in making changes.

What Are the Highlights?
Michael Marotta, who does a wonderful job becoming every one else in Rosemary's life from her mother and sister to husband Jose Ferrer and a couple of other love interests to the doctor who helps her get her life back on track. He makes them all interesting, adds comedic relief to a sometimes depressing story, yet doesn't pull attention away from Harris.

Excellent Lighting Design by Marcus Abbott subtly creates scene changes and helps tell the story.

What Are the Lowlights?
Can there really be lowlights when we get to hear a throaty "Someone to Watch Over Me? The only tweak I would suggest would be a good edit of the book. It veers off in places (like Rosemary's friendship with Bobby Kennedy which doesn't reveal much about the character) and has some exposition-laden dialogue at the beginning which doesn't sound like actual conversation. But it's an enjoyable two hours, so these are minor flaws.

More Information:
Tenderly runs at Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main St., Ivoryton through Nov. 13. Performances are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm; Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm. Tickets are $50 for adults; $45 for seniors; $22 for students and $17 for children: 860-767-7318; www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.

Additional credits:
Scenic Design, William Russell Stark; Costume Design by Rebecca Welles; Wig Design by Liz Cipollina; Sound Design by Tate R. Burmeister

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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