Update Tuesday March 20: Have a listen to my interview with Amy Burgess from Sunday's "Around Cincinnati" below.
Original post Thursday, March 15: Rosie Red doesn't talk. So let's just say Amy Burgess, a local choreographer and actor, knows everything about Rosie from the inside out.
With Opening Day fast approaching, I asked Amy to come to WVXU-FM and talk about creating and performing as the Reds' popular female mascot for Around Cincinnati this Sunday, March 18, at 7 p.m. (After the show airs, I'll put a link to the audio here.)
I'm fascinated by Rosie Red's ability to convey excitement, empathy, and other emotions without saying a word or making any facial expressions. She's a very talented mime.
I hope she doesn't get a big head.
When the Reds added the Rosie character 11 years ago, the club hired Burgess, a five-year veteran of the "Rally Pack" cheerleaders/entertainers at Great American Ball Park. The Anderson Township resident also had filled in as Gapper. Yes, I said Gapper.
Before Rosie's GABP debut, Burgess was invited to film some Reds promotions with Gapper, Mr. Red and Mr. Redlegs. "Then they gave me the (Rosie) suit when I left the taping," she said. "They told me to practice. So I practiced the kind of stuff that I thought the Rosie character would do."
The characteristics she improvised for Rosie, rehearsing in her living room, remain the core of the Reds' only female mascot.
"I decided she was a little bit sassy, a little bit spunky. I wanted her to be able to hold her own with the boys, kind of A League Of Their Own quality," Burgess said, referring to the 1992 Geena Davis-led flick about women who play professional baseball as men get deployed during World War II.
"But I also wanted her to have a nourishing side to her, where she could take care of kids, and kind of be mom-ish to the other mascots."
Burgess, an Anderson High School graduate, is married with two young daughters. She took dance lessons as a girl, and earned a bachelor's degree in theater from Miami University.
When she's not romping around as Rosie, she choreographs school and community theater productions. Amy and her husband, Jason Burgess, a Highlands High School drama teacher, also run the non-profit CAST (Commonwealth Artists Student Theatre) that will produce two shows this summer with area high school students.
I had a delightful conversation with her. Here's a sneak peek:
BEST FEELING: "There's nothing really sweeter than seeing like, a 100-yard dash from a little girl who has waited all week to see you, and just barrels into you for a big hug. I mean, it doesn't get any better than that. "
CAREER CHOICE: "At the time I graduated (from Miami), this was never on my radar: 'I'm gonna grow up and be a mascot!'"
BEST PART OF OPENING DAY: "Oh my gosh! Opening Day! You just say the words and everyone is like, 'Yes!' We show up at the ball park at 5:30 a.m. for a 4:10 p.m. game (to appear on morning TV news)… It's a really long day, and I don't know that I'd have it any other way. It's fantastic."
Tune in to "Around Cincinnati" at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 18, to get the inside scoop on Rosie Red from the woman who knows her best.