By Aron Bederson
Rosemary Loar is a veteran of six Broadway shows and has had leading roles in two Off-Broadway productions, four national tours and numerous regional theaters. (Phoebe Award best musical theater actress). As a concert artist she has been featured on PBS, at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, North Carolina Symphony, and cabarets in New York, LA, Chicago, Kansas City and for over a decade in Munich. In 2012 Ms. Loar won the MAC Hanson Award for continuing excellence in Cabaret.
Ms. Loar wrote the rock score and libretto (along with Robert W. Atwood) for Spoolie Girl, (MITF festival best of the fest for outstanding music and lyrics), her second full length musical, which had an off Broadway run at the Actor’s Temple in 2018. STING*chronicity (Sting’s music combined with monologues) co-written by Ms. Loar and Robert W. Atwood played at Joe’s Pub and Water From The Moon her first full length original rock musical (co-writer/librettist ) was produced at Urban Stages New York City.
Rosemary’s songs have been featured on NBC’s The Today Show, on The Lifetime Network, at Town Hall, Joe Franklin and Joan Hamburg shows, at the UN Fourth Conference for Women in Beijing, in NY Cabarets and in the documentary Our Daughters, Our Future narrated by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
As a recording artist besides the four CD’s of her own original music, she has released 4 other CD’ most notably Sting, Stang, Stung (jazz arrangements of the pop icons’ songs) recorded live at The Metropolitan Room In New York City. Rosemary can be heard on Sting’s soundtrack for the movie The Emperor’s New Groove, the cast albums of Chess and Sunset Boulevard,
Rosemary is also a dedicated vocal instructor and for ten years taught at NYU/Cap 21 and at New York Film Academy. Currently she teaches singers privately in all styles and coaches musical theatre performers for Broadway and regional auditions For more information and for CD’s please go to www.rosemaryloar.com, Spotify, CDBaby, Applemusic.
Rosemary Loar is known to many in the cabaret and performing community as a prolific, exuberant and talented singer/songwriter, cabaret and Broadway performer. I have seen several of her cabaret shows at Don’t Tell Mama’s and the Green Room. I am also familiar with her recent CD Parts and Pieces as well as her musical Spoolie Girl which played at The Actors Temple Theatre in 2018. In this interview conducted online I wanted to get a better understanding of how Loar works and what has inspired her over the years to produce such a constant flow of work in such varied genres:
When did you start songwriting?
I didn’t start writing until after college when I moved to New York City
Can you say anything else about what got you started songwriting?
I was in love with Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro. I guess imitation is the highest form of adoration.
How do you work on a song? Do you start with lyrics or a melody?
I usually work on lyrics first but sometimes I’ll get a groove idea and work from that.
You use the term “groove idea” when you are talking about composing. What exactly do you mean by that?
So Groove means just what it says: It’s how a song is felt. Samba rhythm is a groove that you can use for a lot of jazz /American songbook tunes esp the Brazilan tunes i.e. “Girl From Ipanema” You create a “groove” in different ways: i.e a drum syncopation, with a fretless bass. “Groove” is used almost all the time in pop/rock/latin music not so much in American Songbook tunes, unless the arranger is doing a “take” on the original composition.
What artists have influenced you?
I have a wide range of influences both as a singer and a composer : Ella, Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, Sting, Annie Lennox, Peggy Lee, Miles Davis, Ricky Lee Jones.
How do you structure your cabaret shows? Who makes up your “team?”
I have been doing cabaret shows since 1982 and by now I have a very good sense of where a song should go in the show. For years I only had a music director/pianist and bass player, and sometimes a drummer or trumpet player. I would work on the flow and patter by myself and of course make up some patter as I performed the show. When I started working on my STING*chronicity show which was more ambitious and closer to a one women theatre piece, I hired Barry Kleinbort as my director and now I wouldn’t do a show without him. He is truly the cabaret whisperer. He doesn’t miss anything and yet I feel we are very much in sync as to what is important to make the show a show.
How do the musicians you play with influence your shows?
Frank Ponzio and I do all of the arrangements together. Tom Hubbard, my bass player definitely will add his two cents and suggest an arco (use of bow) on some parts of a a song.
How do you approach making a CD?
First I get the theme of what the CD should be: a collection of original songs, or the songs from a cabaret act that I have performed. Then I decide on the musicians. Sometimes I will add a musician who will add a sweetener to the sound but doesn’t necessarily play in my band. With my newest CD “Parts And Pieces” it was my original pop/rock music and the producer, Tomàs Doncker and I wanted to add an amazing slide guitarist for one of the tracks “Ashes To Ashes”. Usually slide guitar is used with blue grass or folk music but this musician played it so it became this other worldly sound which worked for the topic I was tackling i.e. suicide. The cover photo and art us also important to me and for that I have used Bruce Johnson a great graphic designer/ artist/photographer/collaborator who also has created my web page.
What other topics do you want to discuss?
I think cabaret is here to stay. People love to get up close to the performers and in most cabaret houses that is possible. I love it for that reason too. I can really feel the audience….breathing, laughing, crying, getting a point that I am making in my patter. I feel I am equal parts entertainer, improvisational artist, singer and actress. I love the combination platter of the art form.
Any career goals you want to discuss?
I have written the score, lyrics and co-wrote two musicals, Spoolie Girl and Water From The Moon. Both of them have had off Broadway runs but I would love to have them produced on a bigger scale and even picked up by NetFlix. The Broadway Musical has become very popular with the online audience. Both of these shows would work well as filmed shows. The Prom is a great example on how well musicals can work on-line. Also I would like to take my show STING*chronicity in a theatre setting. As it consists of monologues performed by different “characters” it would lend itself very easily to theatres and as a trained actress the show is a great opportunity to really dig deep into that part of my artistry.
Loar is busy working on her next cabaret show as well as her other projects. She continues to grow in her artistry and we appreciate her taking the time to reflect on her artistic process and body of work. Check her website www.rosemaryloar.com for information on upcoming engagements and her CD’s.