It's a story filled with hope and courage — not to mention two dozen tunes that are an integral part of the Great American Songbook.
In a nutshell, that's "Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical," which debuted last week at the Victoria Theatre in Dayton. As I sat in the audience during the Sunday matinee of this stellar show — produced by the acclaimed Human Race Theatre Company — I couldn't help but marvel at the fact that there is indeed so much more to this legendary song stylist than the image we see in "White Christmas." (That's the movie she made with Bing Crosby, now a holiday tradition on the TV screen.)
All of Clooney's greatest hits do take center stage, including "Come On-A My House," "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep," "Hey There," "White Christmas," — and, of course, the title track. Each is performed magnificently by University of Cincinnati alum Tory Ross.
But instead of a light retrospective, the show delivers a poignant glimpse of the sadness and struggle that accompanied the Maysville, Kentucky, native's rise to fame and fortune. (One of her lowest moments: Being on the campaign trail with presidential hopeful Robert Kennedy, when he was assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968.) Scott Stoney, Human Race Theatre Company resident artist, showcases his versatility by portraying a cast of characters that includes the singer's psychiatrist, ex-husband Jose Ferrer and sister Betty.
I'm not going to give the plot away. You'll just have to experience "Tenderly" for yourself. But hurry. The show ends March 4.
For more info, visit humanracetheatre.org
or call 937/228-3630.