Rosemary Clooney remembered
Created, Directed and Choreographed by Dean Regan
Performed by Judy Marshak, Graham Coffeng, & Jay T. Schramek
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
August 11 – 29, 2009
Live! On Stage!
Review by Mary Alderson
For those who remember and take pleasure in the music of Rosemary Clooney, Clooney Tunes will be an enjoyable evening at Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia.
To many of us, Rosemary Clooney is just one of the sisters in the classic movie White Christmas. But she also had a long singing career, performing in the style of a big band vocalist or jazz singer. This musical revue brings together 19 of her favourite songs from the 40s and 50s – for those familiar with that era, it will be a great nostalgia trip.
Dean Regan, well known for his creation of A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline, collected the songs and put the revue together. This Petrolia production is the world premier of Clooney Tunes.
Judy Marshak portrays Rosemary Clooney, singing tunes such as “This Ole House”, “Mambo Italiano”, and “Come on-a my house.” Jay T. Schramek and Graham Coffeng, both with smooth vocals, back her. A three-piece band, including Michael Barber, Spencer Lewis Cole and Michael Herring, provides the music.
Schramek gets spontaneous applause for a dance solo early in the show. He also provides the comedy as a cowboy in an extreme hat, and keeps the audience laughing at his over-the-top expressions. Coffeng with his singing voice duels with Schramek’s amazing tap-dance skills in an entertaining number.
The audience fully enjoys their rendition of Sisters, a favourite song from White Christmas. But instead of two beautiful sisters, we get three – Marshak is flanked by Coffeng and Schramek in very interesting glittering gowns.
Local children Justine Davis, Katherine McNabb, Emily Cross and Sharlyn Mcquigge alternate performances and portray Clooney’s family in the early numbers.
The set for the final number, White Christmas, brought forth “oohs and aahs” from the audience. Barn doors are opened to reveal a beautiful winter scene with snow falling, while a sleigh appears. Marschak wears a beautiful red satin dress, recreating the movie scene.
Costume changes and moving set pieces took a little longer then they should have, on opening night. We hope the pace will be stepped up over the run of the show, to avoid the loss of momentum.
The performance is short, running just over an hour and a half including an intermission. There is more Regan could do with this show to make it good theatre. Perhaps a little more of Clooney’s life could be included: she tried to overcome a dysfunctional upbringing, battling mental health issues and weight problems. Her career faltered, then she made a comeback. Those who remember Clooney will enjoy this light fare, but to attract a new audience, a story is needed.
Clooney Tunes continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until August 29. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or (519) 882-1221 for tickets.
Mary Alderson offers her view of area theatre in this column on a regular basis. As well as being a fan of live theatre, she is a former journalist who is currently employed with the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations.