A couple of luminous Broadway stars shone brightly this past Sunday in Everything’s Coming Up Rosie, Sterling’s Upstairs At The Federal’s one-night-only salute to Rosemary Clooney, a celebration of both the lady of song and the ten years that Michael Sterling has treated L.A. to the crème-de-la-crème of musical theater talent in an intimate supper club setting.
Kerry O’Malley (Into The Woods, Billy Elliott, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas) and Mary Callanan (Annie, Mamma Mia!) took center stage to offer a two-part salute to Rosie, O’Malley recalling “The Girl Singer Years” and Callanan recreating the legendary songstress’s Last Concert, and what a an evening of song these two lustrous ladies delivered (interspersed with amusing, informative anecdotes).
Following a show-opening duet (Gypsy’s “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” the last word in the title tweaked to reflect Miss Clooney’s nickname), russet-haired stunner O’Malley (looking ever so gorgeous in a black floral-print A-line dress that would have done ‘50s Rosie proud) gave us “Come On A My House,” “Nice And Easy,” “Sweet Kentucky Ham” (which Miss Clooney dubbed “the quintessential road song”), “A Foggy Day,” and a torchy medley of “I Cried For You,” “Who’s Sorry Now,” and “Goody, Goody.”
Most memorably of all, O’Malley duetted “Hey There” with none other than a black-and-white Rosie herself, followed by a sultry “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me,” an apt choice since it was the Drama Desk Award nominee who recreated on Broadway the role that Clooney had first played on the silver screen, White Christmas chanteuse Betty Haynes.
Then, wearing a simple black gown and a gold-brocaded black jacket that would have looked terrific on Rosie in her later years, the vivacious Callanan took us back in time to Rosie’s Last Concert: Honolulu, 2001 (recorded for posterity as Clooney’s first-and-only live LP).
“Sentimental Journey,” “I’m Confessin’ That I Love You,” “Just In Time,” “You Go To My Head,” “Old Rockin’ Chair,” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” showcased Rosie’s later-in-life jazz-singer years. (Mention was appropriately made of Bing Crosby, who helped revive a career put on hold during bouts with depression and drug addiction, and of certain Clooney nephew who’s achieved film stardom of his own.)
As for Callanan’s “Ol’ Man River,” you’ve not heard the Jerome Kern classic till you’ve heard Callanan bebop it Rosemary Clooney-style.
A medley of “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” and “I’m Checkin’ Out Goodbye” had O’Malley and Callanan once again joining voices to harmonious perfection, followed by an aptly chosen, deliciously duetted “Old Friends,” recorded by Rosie on her 1990 CD Demi-Centennial.
Providing sensational backup throughout both song sets were musical director Richard Allen on piano, Ed Smith on drums and Randy Landas on standup bass.
Michael Sterling spent much of his adolescence at the Rosemary Clooney/Jose Ferrer Beverly Hills home as an unofficial sibling to the couple’s five kids.
What better star to salute then than the one-and-only Miss Clooney. Rosie must have been smiling down on The Federal.
Sterlings Upstairs At The Federal, 5303 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.
July 31, 2016
Photos: Karen Staitman Photography