Spotlight On… Cast & Director of Tenderly the Musical

Tenderly opens at New Wimbledon Studio Theatre tomorrow and runs until 23 September 2017.

Produced by Joseph Hodges, the show stars Katie Ray and Federico Zanni, it’s directed by Tania Azevedo. Break A Leg were lucky enough to be able to interview Katie, Fed and Tania about the show and here’s what they had to say…

First up – here’s director, Tania! 

Tell me about the piece and your vision for it:

‘Tenderly’ is a musical about Rosemary Clooney’s life and the music she became known for. It’s slightly different from your usual jukebox musical because you hear about her life through her own words and you follow her journey of unpacking her life. It’s a fascinating look at America in the 50’s and 60’s and the glamorisation of ‘the girl next door’.

When I started working on ‘Tenderly’ I knew that we had to create a piece of work that made audiences care about Rosemary Clooney even if they knew nothing about her or her career. It’s been a joy to unpack this fascinating woman with actor Katie Ray and create a piece that talks about fame and the music and film industry in general.

Did you have initial ideas about casting and what you wanted actors to bring to the piece?

Casting this show was particularly hard because we needed to find an actor play Rosemary from the ages of 10 to 60 and another actor to play all other characters in her life, both male and female.

For Rosemary, we knew we needed someone who understood the sound but also had the same jovial, humours and subtle quality. Katie Ray ticked all those boxes and some!

For Doctor, we were less specific with what we wanted when we went into the audition room: the main thing was that he had to be a tremendous actor and comfortable with multi-rolling. Fed Zanni is very skilled at characterising and his playful energy was exactly what we needed for this role.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

Of course I hope they walk away humming the amazing music but mostly I hope it casts some light on the life of one of America’s most beloved performers.

Have rehearsals altered your initial thoughts, at all?

If anything they heightened my interest in Rosemary’s life. We worked in a lot of detail in her time-line and how the political events of the time impacted her career and mental health. Doing this kind of research work with the cast was immensely enjoyable and inspiring.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

Here’s a little challenge to answer that question – try not singing the song in your head to the following lyrics





If you failed the challenge, then you need to come see and the show and enjoy these performed by the most incredible actors.

Finally, any advice for budding directors?

Take as many opportunities to direct work as you can find – readings, short play nights, scratch performances.

Thanks so much, Tania and yes – I’m singing the lyrics but I still want to see the show! 


Here’s cast member, Federico Zanni….

Tell me about the piece and your character.

‘Tenderly’ is an honest, heartfelt, funny and sometimes topically controversial look at the life of 1950s icon Rosemary Clooney. It’s a two-hander and Rosemary is the only character I don’t play.

What was your initial impression of the script?

I immediately loved the honesty of the text and the instant familiarity it creates between the audience and Rosemary. Whether a fan or not, I know everyone will leave the theatre utterly in love with her.

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

It was easy, thanks to the phenomenal team I’m working with.

Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role?

I always knew I wanted to bring a lot of sass to the character of Doctor.

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

I think the New Wimbledon Studio is an ideal venue for it, as it’s an intimate story, with some cracking musical numbers.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

If you buy a ticket, then you won’t be disappointed when you want a ticket and they’ve all gone! ‘Waste not want not.’

Thanks so much for your brilliant answers, Fed! 


Finally, Katie Ray, who plays Rosemary! 

Tell me about the piece and your character. 

I am playing Rosemary Clooney in a play about her life.

What was your initial impression of the script?

The script is dense and full. Rosemary’s career parallels this concept – as in, she had a huge varied career that spanned many years. My initial impression of the script was “Wow! What a life!” Second thought was how the hell am I gonna learn all these lines!

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

I think telling someone’s life is always hard to translate correctly. The varied aspects of Rosemary’s personality, career and relationships need to be portrayed with care and thought, so for me researching in between the reading and then the staging was important.

Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role?

Accuracy. Subtlety. Depth. Humour.

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

I think the nature of the piece is intimate. The venue gives you that up close and personal feel which I think fits the piece well.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

Whether you adore Rosemary Clooney or have no idea who she is this show will open doors of warmth with its jazz songs and give clarity to dark times with its honest portrayal of reality. The show oozes with sophistication and unless your heart is made of stone it will move you from laughter to tears moment to moment.

Thanks so much for your time, Katie! I think you’ll make a superb Rosemary Clooney! 

Thanks again to everyone from the team who gave their time to Break A Leg for this interview – I hope to get along to see it! 


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