Review: 'Tenderly, The Rosemary Clooney Musical'

New Wimbledon Theatre is the venue for show's UK premiere

Extensively played in the US, this is the première of the show in the UK, staged in the freshly painted New Wimbledon Studio, now known as the Time and Leisure Studio.

The intimacy of the studio theatre was enhanced by the simple set where some members of the audience were seated at tables which were essentially part of the initial jazz club set, further blurring the divide between actors and audience. A jazz combo of keyboard, drums and double bass added to the club atmosphere.

The action mainly takes place in the psychiatrist's office following Rosemary's nervous breakdown while performing in Reno, largely brought on by her proximity to her friend Bobby Kennedy when he was assassinated in 1968. The show follows her life up to her recovery in a series of flashbacks, the changes in lighting cleverly marking the scene/time changes.

Rosemary is wonderfully played by Katie Ray who has a beautiful singing voice as befits her impressive musical theatre background. All other roles are played by the talented Fed Zanni who, although primarily taking the part of the doctor, plays various members of Rosemary's family, her lovers/husbands and her close friends, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, smoothly adapting to the other characters, and complimenting his acting skills, with the removal of spectacles or jacket or the addition of a tie or a handbag. All very simple but very effective.

Of course the action is interspersed with many familiar songs recorded by Rosemary and which are suitably fitted into the storyline, as well two original songs in 'Are you in love again' and 'Pretty Little Pills' written by the shows creators, Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman.

After the show, the audience were also treated to a brief Q&A with not only producer, Joseph and director, Tania but also Ms Yates Vogt who had come over from the US for this première UK production and seemed thrilled that her show had been so well received here in Wimbledon.

The show runs until 23 September so there is lots time to see it (not to mention experience the newly refreshed studio theatre).

By Anne Horsburgh

September 6, 2017

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Rehearsals for Tenderly