Tuesday, March 6, 2012

That's a-nice! "Rosemary Clooney's Baby" has been born!!

Full honesty here.  I am a HUGE Scooty and JoJo fan.  Their musical parody combos, “Carpenter’s Halloween” and “Alien Queen” were hysterically funny.  However, when I heard about their new show, “Rosemary Clooney’s Baby”, about 95% of me said, “YES!!! A NEW S&JJ SHOW!!!”  But about 5% of me said “Wait a minute, something's wrong…a blending of Rosemary Clooney and the movie “Rosemary’s Baby???  Umm…..I’m not sure.  Rosemary Clooney sang all those lovely ballads.” 

Well, that’s because I’m not Scooty or JoJo.  Oh me of little faith, of course it works!  If the music of the Carpenters can merge with the movie “Halloween”, then anything is possible.  And it’s very, very funny. 

A concert reading took place in Chicago on Sunday, March 4, at Hamburger Mary’s in the upstairs bar/performance area - Mary’s Attic.  This was the original space of Scooty and JoJo’s earlier productions, so it was sort of a coming home.   The performance sold out, so another has been added -  Thursday, March 8, also at Mary’s Attic.  It may still be possible to get tickets, and I urge you to do so.  Here is the link:  http://bigtopjojo.com/scooty/

Photos by Timmy Samuel - Starbelly Studio

Written and produced by Scooty and JoJo, it stars Ryan Lanning as Rosemary, with John Francisco, Jaclyn Keough, Libby Lane, Michael Reyes, Sara Sevigny, and the über fabulous Scott Bradley (Scooty) as Minnie Castevet.  Music was provided by Jonny Stax ( JoJo) on keyboard, and Eric Engelson on drums, as well as the very busy John Francisco on guitar, standup bass and ukulele.   Be honest, when was the last time you saw someone play the ukulele?

All the performers were terrific.  Ryan Lanning (Ripley from “Alien Queen”) had the hilarious Mia Farrow shtick down cold – the little girl mannerisms and the clueless vulnerability.  And as for my misplaced concern about the Clooney love songs, Lanning performs them with emotional depth and a great voice.  He gets huge props for his beautiful rendition of “You’ll Never Know”. 
Photos by Timmy Samuel - Starbelly Studio
Ruth Gordon may have been the definitive cinematic Minnie Castevet, the loony Satan worshiper from next door.  But Scott Bradley’s ever evil and annoying Minnie was comic gold.  I had tears from laughing. 
Photos by Timmy Samuel - Starbelly Studio
Many of Rosemary Clooney’s greatest hits were included:  “Hey There”, “Come On-a My House”, “Botch-A-Me”, “This Ole House”, “Tenderly”.  The show opened with Rosemary and Guy apartment hunting to “Come On-A My House", and “Mambo Italiano” became “Mambo Sataniano” for the final scene of Rosemary and her newborn Antichrist.  All of the songs fit surprisingly well.  But I have to tell you, I will never again be able to listen to “I Want to Get You on a Slow Boat to China” without thinking about Satanic sex rituals.  And I’m perfectly ok with that. 
Photos by Timmy Samuel - Starbelly Studio

The cast performed with scripts in hand, so some gestures were a bit awkward and page turning in the middle of a line happened.  But all that just added to the charm of the evening.  Everyone felt the electric vibe of being present at a very special premier.  And as for it being just a reading – it seemed fully costumed and the props and puppets we look forward to seeing were there.  Most, if not all of the props were familiar from past productions and got laughs of recognition.  When the show is fully formed and staged I’m sure it will look a bit different, but Sunday night the familiar bits made everyone feel like we were all part of the same club.  Which I guess we are.
Photos by Timmy Samuel - Starbelly Studio
So whatever you do, if you are in Chicago or can get here, try to get to Hamburger Mary’s this Thursday to see the show.  It will be your last chance to see the work in progress.  Then you can join me in saying, “Rosemary Clooney’s Baby”?  Oh yes, I was there at the beginning….

P.S.  On a personal note, the friend I was with that evening told me that her father had lived next door to Rosemary Clooney at one time, and he admitted to doing a little pervy window peeping.  Talk about six degrees of separation, holy cow! 

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