Golden Era Goddess

Emily Dennis might be new to FST, but she has already made a big impression with Cabaret audiences in That’s Amoré!.

We sat down with Emily to talk about what it’s like to be the sole woman in the hit Dean Martin tribute, her favorite parts of the show, the many instruments she plays, and more.

That’s Amoré! plays in FST’s Court Cabaret through February 2. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

That’s Amoré! delves into the personal and professional life of Dean Martin. What did you know about Dean Martin before working on this show, and what were you surprised to learn?

I listened to his Christmas album every year growing up with my grandparents, so I knew his music. I knew his relationship to the Rat Pack and Frank Sinatra, but I actually learned all about Jerry Lewis from this show. I didn’t know of Martin’s professional relationship with Jerry Lewis, so that was really cool to learn about. I also found out about his relationship history. I discovered so much more of who he was as a person and about his personal life through That’s Amoré!.

What is your favorite song to perform in That’s Amoré! and why?

I love performing “That Old Black Magic,” which is my entrance number, because it’s a fun way to enter the stage and introduce people to the feminine characters in the show.

And I do really love singing “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You” with the rest of the cast in four part harmony at the very end of the show, because we’re all in a line and it is very powerful.

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Nick Anastasia, Mike Backes, Nygel D. Robinson, and Emily Dennis. Photo by Matthew Holler.

You’re the only woman in a six person cast. What do you think that does for an audience, and how does having a woman in the show help tell the story of Dean Martin’s life?

I think the register of a female voice adds a different tonality and color to the songs. When the rest of the cast (who are all men) sing in the same octave, I come in at a higher octave, and it helps break up the listener’s ear.

When I sing “That Old Black Magic,” which Marilyn Monroe sang in Bus Stop, it shows the vibrancy of the kind of people Dean Martin was hanging out with. Along with Angie Dickenson and Shirley MacLaine, Monroe was known as a “Rat Pack Mascot.”

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Emily Dennis, Nygel D. Robinson, and Mike Backes. Photo by Matthew Holler.

Over the course of the show you also play bass and violin. Which instruments are your favorites to play?

I actually learned how to play bass for this show, which was really exciting because I love learning new things. My main instruments are piano, guitar, and violin, but then Nygel Robinson, the show’s main bassist, taught me how to play some bass and it’s been really fun.

You and the rest of the cast have really great chemistry on the stage, but this is the first time you’ve all worked together. Do you all spend time together off stage as well? How does this chemistry contribute to the show?

Yes, we do! We are neighbors, and we have lots of movie nights. We all hang out – go on outings, go to the beach, and check out all the fun things that Sarasota has to offer. We even have an ongoing Trouble board game competition – I think we’ve played it over 80 times since the show started.

Our chemistry is really important for the show because it is all about our camaraderie. We’re inspired by the Rat Pack, and they had great camaraderie on stage, so I’m glad that comes through when we are onstage.

That’s Amoré! plays in FST’s Court Cabaret through February 2. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.