Monday, December 27, 2010

"Hello Mary Robin Roth"



I'm reviewing "Hello, Dolly!" tomorrow night but before I did, I thought this would be a perfect time to do a piece on one of my favorite Chicago actresses. The obsessive fans of musical theatre generally have their Broadway divas that they love and will fight to the death about. I know people who have ended friendships over who's better Patti, Ethel, Bernadette, Mary, Donna, or Angela. Sadly I bet there's also a group of people who have no idea who I just named but they're probably not going to be reading this piece anyway. Growing up in Chicago and attending theatre obsessively since I was 15 I was lucky to see certain performers again and again in shows and they were what I considered my "stars." Sadly I used to wait for them when they came out after the performance and would in the best of terms "stalk" them asking them questions, getting autographs and so forth. I saw these ladies and gentlemen as stars and wanted to get know the person behind the performance and also of course hear a little Chicago theatre gossip. I remember a certain favorite local Juan Peron telling me which of the many Eva's he starred opposite against. He quite frankly told me who sang the hell out of the role but who acted the hell out of it or the time I went up to one Diva and told her she should have played Mame because she was the right age when in fact the woman playing the part was ten years older then she was. I was young luckily there was no plate of spaghetti.

Anyway I wanted to do this short piece about Mary Robin Roth and how excited I am to see her in the role of Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi . I have not seen the show yet so the judgement is still out on how she does in this taxing role but I do know from seeing many of her previous credits that she is more then up for the titanic role.

I first saw Ms. Roth in Candelight Dinner Playhouse's 1993 production of "Oliver!" When I opened up my playbill I assumed she was an unknown since I was still fairly new to Candlelight (the first production I saw there was their second mounting of "Evita" with Anne Gunn.) Her bio listed that she was thrilled to be back in the Midwest and that Candlelight audiences may remember her as Sally in "Me and My Girl," Mabel Norman in "Mack and Mabel," The Leading Player in "Zorba!," Anita in "West Side Story," and as she put it "Leather Lungs" Annie Oakley in "Annie Get Your Gun." Leather Lungs was right her Nancy was full of all the over the top suffering complete with a great cockney accent and the belting. Mary Robin started out with zesty "It's a Fine Life," delivered a strong "Oom-Pah-Pah" and then finished up with a piercing "As Long As He Needs Me" that I can still hear over all other women who have sung this role.

When that show was over she took over the seasons of Candlelight turning a vaudevillian turn as Sister Robert Anne in "Nunsense II the Second Coming...", a comedic Sister Lee in "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? (Joseph Jefferson Nomination), Patricia Fodor in "Crazy for You," and Mickey in ""My One and Only."

Ms. Robin Roth's numerous other credits include an Indianapolis Pat Award for her Fanny Brice in "Funny Girl," Her Joseph Jefferson and After Dark Award winning performance as Carlotta in "Follies" at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Sister Robert Anne in "Nunsense," Angie, the Mambo Winner in the reworked Marriott Lincolnshire production of "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom" and in "Bye Bye Birdie" Mrs. Schubert in the Chicago, Washington D.C. and San Francisco productions of "Sheer Madness", both the National and International tours of "Evita" (International Cast Recording with Florence Lacey), and the Toronto Company of "Sunset Boulevard," (where she understudied the leading role of Norma Desmond) Broadway Credits include Ensemble and performing the roles of Princess Puffer & Helena Landless in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" and Jeanne McCarthy in "Sentor Joe" heck the woman even figure skated her way though the old Drury Lane Evergreen Park's production of "The Nutcracker on Ice." After that I'm reviewing "Hello, Dolly!" tomorrow night but before I did, I thought this would be a perfect time to do a piece on one of my favorite Chicago actresses. The obsessive fans of musical theatre generally have their Broadway divas that they love and will fight to the death about. I know people who have ended friendships over who's better Patti, Ethel, Bernadette, Mary, Donna, or Angela. Sadly I bet there's also a group of people who have no idea who I just named but they're probably not going to be reading this piece anyway. Growing up in Chicago and attending theatre obsessively since I was 15 I was lucky to see certain performs again and again in shows and they were my "stars." Sadly I used to wait for them when they came out after the performance and would in the best of terms "stalk" them. I saw these ladies as stars and wanted to get know the person behind the performance and also of course hear a little Chicago gossip. I remember a certain favorite local Juan Peron telling me which of the many Eva's he starred opposite against. He quite frankly told me who sang the hell out of the role but who acted the hell out of it or the time I went up to one Diva and told her she should have played Mame because she was the right age when in fact the woman playing the part was ten years older then she was. I was young luckily there was no plate of spaghetti.

Anyway I wanted to do this short piece about Mary Robin Roth and how excited I am to see her in the role of Dolly Levi. I have not seen the show yet so the judgement is still out on how she does in this taxing role but I do know from seeing many of her previous credits that she is more then up for the titanic role.

I first saw Ms. Roth in Candelight Dinner Playhouse's 1993 production of "Oliver!" When I opened up my playbill I assumed she was an unknown since I was still fairly new to Candlelight (the first production I saw there was their second mounting of "Evita" with Anne Gunn.) Her bio listed that she was thrilled to be back in the Midwest and that Candlelight audiences may remember her as Sally in "Me and My Girl," Mabel Norman in "Mack and Mabel," The Leading Player in "Zorba!," Anita in "West Side Story," and as she put it "Leather Lungs" Annie Oakley in "Annie Get Your Gun." Leather Lungs was right her Nancy was full of all the over the top suffering complete with a great cockney accent and the belting. Mary Robin started out with zesty "It's a Fine Life," delivered a strong "Oom-Pah-Pah" and then finished up with a piercing "As Long As He Needs Me" that I can still hear over all other women who have sung this role.

When that show was over she took over the seasons of Candlelight turning a vaudevillian turn as Sister Robert Anne in "Nunsense II the Second Coming...", a comedic Sister Lee in "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? (Joseph Jefferson Nomination), Patricia Fodor in "Crazy for You," and Mickey in ""My One and Only."

Ms. Robin Roth's numerous other credits include an Indianapolis Pat Award for her Fanny Brice in "Funny Girl," Her Joseph Jefferson and After Dark Award winning performance as Carlotta in "Follies" at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Sister Robert Anne in "Nunsense," Angie, the Mambo Winner in the reworked Marriott Lincolnshire production of "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom" and in "Bye Bye Birdie" Mrs. Schubert in the Chicago, Washington D.C. and San Francisco productions of "Sheer Madness", both the National and International tours of "Evita" (International Cast Recording with Florence Lacey), and the Toronto Company of "Sunset Boulevard," (where she understudied the leading role of Norma Desmond) Broadway Credits include Ensemble and performing the roles of Princess Puffer & Helena Landless in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" and Jeanne McCarthy in "Sentor Joe" heck the woman even figure skated her way though the old Drury Lane Evergreen Park's production of "The Nutcracker on Ice." After that Dolly Levi should be a welcome return home for her.

I'm still hoping that she finally uses that piercing belt of hers and decides to record a solo disc so us fans of Chicago theatre have something to always have a piece of. Though I have to admit and with all these diva pieces I wish they would do the same thing. Some of the women in Chicago have showstopper voices that have worn out my Second City Divas Discs (only two and sadly Mary Robin is on neither.) How about one with all of her favorite roles recorded and sold at the theatres she's appearing in? All this said and done I can't wait to call on Robin Roth to belt out these great Jerry Herman Songs especially on the night that he's being honored with the Kennedy Center Honors.

3 comments:

Kevin said...

SO How was it?

StevenD said...

I actually didn't get to see it. Some family issues came up. I'm sure Mary Robin belted the heck out of the music. I did hear from friends who saw it said that it was wonderful.

Richard Skipper said...

Richard Skipper here and I am writing a book on Hello, Dolly and would like to interview Mary Robin Roth. Any idea on how to contact her?