If you grew up in the Midwest you’ve probably heard the
catchy jingle for “Stanley Steemer, the Carpet Cleaner.” But I bet
you’ve never heard it sung operatically, or with some bebop or thrash.
Now you can do that — all in one three-minute video featuring University
of Cincinnati musical theater grad Mia Gentile, a 2011 grad of the
College-Conservatory of Music. Local audiences know her for several
amusing turns in incarnations of The Marvelous Wonderettes at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati and the sold-out (and revived) production of next to normal, but trust me, this girl is bound for glory.
People who’ve never heard of her or the carpet cleaning company are tuning in now by the thousands, thanks to a YouTube video,
cleverly titled “The Stanley Steemer Variations (by Mia).” Gentile
generated with local musician and producer Roger Klug.
Julie Spangler, a
professional pianist and musical theater instructor at CCM, introduced
Klug and Gentile, who wanted to produce a voiceover demo of the various
musical styles she could reproduce (which appears to be limitless). Klug
convinced her to translate her vocal performances into a video, which
they shot in one day over the summer. “It was a total collaboration,”
Klug tells me. “We talked about what each character would look like, she
did the makeup and hair, I shot and edited the thing. We completely did
it for no other reason than ‘just for the fun of it.’” It was shot at
the local studio Mental Giant with Klug using a Sony Handycam.
Well, that it was — it’s apparent from watching. But
everyone is getting in on the fun, and the video has taken off virally
on YouTube. When Klug contacted me on Monday morning, it had had 40,000
hits in just a few days. By midnight the piece had exploded, exceeding
100,000 hits. He and Gentile have created a blog site to support it: http://miavideo.wordpress.com.
Even better, the Stanley Steemer people have picked it up,
hyping it on their Facebook page, which has led to a suspicion that the
whole thing is a clever marketing ploy. “Another faction thinks Stanley
Steemer owes us a big check,” Klug jokes, “which I'm inclined to agree
with!” It’s spread to an international audience now, dare I say “picking
up steam” with a mention and a link in the U.K. edition of The Huffington Post. Before this winds up, Gentile will need her own 1-800 number!