• This Is Rutherford

This is Rosemary Loar

By Jennifer Ersalesi

Photos submitted by Rosemary Loar

Rosemary Loar

With decades of experience and a career that includes acting, singing, playwriting, composing and teaching, Rosemary Loar, a Rutherford resident, has been fortunate enough to grace stages all over the country. As a musical actress, she has played memorable characters such as Grizabella in Cats and has performed in Broadway musicals, such as Chess, Once Upon a Mattress and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas as well as many others.


This is Rutherford had the opportunity to speak with Rosemary about her career, her projects so far and what she has planned for the future.

TIR: As a Cabaret artist, you have the ability to connect with an audience on a deeper level in a more intimate setting. Are you still performing in cabaret shows?

Rosemary Loar: Yes. I will always be involved in the cabaret scene as it gives me such joy and it is an outlet to create programs of music that I love.

My newest show is called "Everything's Coming Up Rosie". I'm also doing a fundraiser at the Rutherford Library called "Everything's Coming Up Rosemary, with slightly different material, on September 19th at 7 pm. Tickets are $25 and on sale online at rutherfordlibrary.org or at the library.

In the past most of my Cabaret shows have included songs that are jazz infused. I have shows with arrangements of songs from The Great American Songbook or songs from the pop and rock world, such as Sting's music (in my show "Sting-chronicity"). With my new show, "Everything's Coming Up Rosie", I am actually singing songs from all of the Broadway and regional musical theater shows I have performed in. (i.e. Gypsy (Mama Rose), Sunset Boulevard, etc).

Rosemary Loar in "Sting-chronicity"

TIR: When will your next Cabaret show in New York City take place?

RL: I will debut the act at Don't Tell Mama, which is a fantastic place in NYC to see a variety of shows. My Cabaret show will take place on Oct 10 at 7 pm and Oct 12th at 4 pm. My musical accompaniment will be Frank Ponzio on piano and Tom Hubbard on stand up bass. Tickets can be purchased through their website or by phone: (212) 757-0788 (after 4 pm).


TIR: This summer you performed in Don’t Dress for Dinner at Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown, PA. Who are you playing? What can you tell us about the role?

RL: This summer I am doing 3 shows in 8 weeks! I began the run with Don't Dress For Dinner. I played Jacqueline who is a well-off Parisian that owns a country home with her husband. The play takes place in their country home. My character is a spoiled, very snobby woman who is having an affair with her and her husband’s best man. She hits the roof when she suspects her husband is having an affair as well. She does not see the irony of the situation, of course. My character is someone who wants what she wants and usually gets it. Everyone in the play is actually a horrible person in some way. It was fun to play this role as in real life I would never let myself be this selfish and self centered.

TIR: Don’t Dress for Dinner is a farce. What makes acting in a farce so enjoyable?

RL: I have never performed in a farce and it was an amazing experience as an actress. You have to make everything very large and extreme and emotional, but at the same time it's important to not comment on what you are doing. There has to be truth to it. So it's life at its largest. I used a lower register to my speaking voice and also had a very heightened element to everything I expressed. There is a lot of door slamming and quick exits and entrances. I entered the stage once and it took me a second to remember what I was supposed to say as I had made three entrances through that door in quick succession.


TIR: What else do you have planned for this summer?

RL: The second show was also at Mountain Playhouse in PA, which I closed a couple weeks ago. This show was more like a Neil Simon slice of life; very real and warm. I played the mother of a grown man who was moving to Chicago and ultimately proposing to his girlfriend. It was called Things My Mother Taught Me. We rehearsed this during the day and performed Don't Dress For Dinner at night. Once we opened that play we started rehearsals for Midlife Crises 2, which is a musical that has 28 numbers in it. It's not a book musical but a sketch comedy. There were six people in the cast. I was not in every number, but I have group numbers, trios, quartets and my solo was an 11 page patter song! We learned this show in record time and my brain is still recovering from all that information. We finished this show on August 18th.

Rosemary at the Iridium (Cabaret show)

TIR: What do you have planned for the Fall?

RL: I am a composer and I am releasing a new CD of my original pop music called "Parts and Pieces" I am thrilled how it has turned out. I am using some of the best musicians in the New Jersey/New York area. We recorded it in a studio in West Orange where the Jersey Boys recorded all of their music. The studio has such a great feel to it and the sound is very warm and full, as there is a lot of open space. "Parts and Pieces" is a concept album. It chronicles my journey through my husband’s passing (Robert Atwood, Alvin Ailey Ballet Instructor and Playwright) and my life after that. To be clear, all the songs are not sad. I can always find humor and hope in anything and the album ends on a celebratory note.


TIR: In addition to all of the roles you play on stage, there is another role that you play; teacher. What made you decide to take on this particular role?

RL: Yes, I have a teaching studio in my home in Rutherford and in one in midtown in NYC. I love sharing what I know and paying it forward. I love making it safe for people to tap into their natural voices and their musical abilities as pianists. It's fun to see the light bulb go off in a student's mind. I teach vocal technique (singing) and also how to act a song. I also get students ready for their college entrance auditions if they are pursuing a major in Theatre/Music. I also have students that I Skype in other countries and cities.

Rosemary as Miss Shields in "A Christmas Story" at Arkansas Repertory Theater

TIR: How many years have you lived in Rutherford? What do you enjoy most about it?

RL: I moved to Rutherford in 1999. I love the trees and moved here for that reason. Also for the sound of the birds. NYC just doesn't have enough nature for me and my soul was needing that. I also love my neighborhood. When I moved here I got into gardening in a very big and meaningful way. On my street there are several gardeners and we all share seeds and plantings and give each other tips on how to get the best results. In fact, while I am away I have a couple of neighbors taking care of my garden: watering and weeding. I feel so blessed to have so much support and goodwill around me.


TIR: What do you hope to see happen with the arts in Rutherford?

RL: That's a big question. I think there is so much potential here with the arts. We have a lot of residents who would support theatre and a music scene, with jazz and cabaret, live poetry readings and art exhibits. We still need a venue that is sustainable and realistic for our community. I think the Williams Center should be torn down, with the chandelier saved of course (as that is the centerpiece of the building). If the building was rebuilt with a 199 seat theater and a small cabaret/music stage and a cafe on the main floor that would seem to be a more practical arts center. The upper floors could be apartments with some that are designated for low income housing. The top floor or basement could be parking. As we all know, parking is a huge problem in our downtown. It's been proven over and over again in other communities around the country and in other countries (i.e Germany) that mixed use buildings are economically sound ideas.

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