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Rosemary Clooney's Story is Told in Musical, "Tenderly"

The story of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical begins just 60 miles from Covington in Maysville.
 
Part hit parade and part bio, the show comes to The Carnegie, Nov. 4-19.
 
Clooney’s life was so filled with highs and lows it would have been worthy of a movie: recording for Columbia Records at 18, starring with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in holiday classic White Christmas at 26, her own TV musical variety show at 28, battles with addiction and depression, felled by a nervous breakdown at 40. She kept on singing for more than half a century.
 
Tenderly has deep local roots. Its creators are Cincinnati’s Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman, it was developed at Human Race in Dayton where it had its premiere, and Playhouse in the Park premiered a revised version in 2014.
 
The Carnegie production has one of local theatre’s top teams: Ed Cohen and Dee Ann Bryll co-directing and Steve Goers as musical director.
 
Kim Schroeder Long spent almost 20 years performing on Cincinnati stages before her family relocated to the Bay Area, where she first played Clooney in Tenderly earlier this year. She does come back to town to act and visit. We chatted while she was driving to a friend’s home to help her run lines for an upcoming show. Long’s last local performance was as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Covedale in 2014.
 
The version of Tenderly Carnegie audiences will see has revisions, Long says, although the essentials are the same: the action is set in a therapist’s office with Clooney talking about her life between performances of her biggest hits including “Mambo Italiano,” “Come On-A My House,” “Hey There” and, of course, the title song. Allen Middleton plays the therapist and other roles.
 
When she was in Tenderly last winter, Long says, “it was more of a jukebox musical,” Long says, “but it’s not that any more. It’s a drama about a woman in crisis and the songs help tell the story.”
 
That’s right in Long’s wheelhouse.
 
“One of the reasons I got into acting is human psychology. It’s not just singing and dancing. I’m really interested in understanding character and learning about myself in the process."
 
Clooney, says long, “is special to me. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know her songs.”
 
“Suzy Snowflake” when she was a little kid, of course, "White Christmas", and “I’m a big fan of Michael Feinstein and they collaborated on jazz.” Beginning in 1977, Clooney recorded an album a year for the Concord Jazz record label until her death in 2002.
 
With this second production of Tenderly, Long says, Clooney is “in my bones.”
 
Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical, Nov. 4-19. The Carnegie, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets $30, students $23. 859-957-1940, www.thecarnegie.com and at the box office.
 
Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts
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