Gypsy, May 2010
Book by Arthur Laurents • Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Robert Ursan
University Theatre, Riddell Centre, University of Regina
More About Gypsy
Gypsy, based on the memoirs of legendary striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, has a script by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne (several of the songs were in last year’s brunch featuring Styne’s music) and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Tams-Witmark, which owns the performance rights for Gypsy, calls it “the ultimate story about an aggressive stage mother.”
The story starts in Seattle with stage mother Rose pushing her two daughters into Uncle Jocko’s Kiddie Show. June, her mother feels, is the most likely to become a star. Louise is plainer and quieter; she stands meekly in her sister’s shadow. A new act called “Baby June and her Newsboys” is conceived by Rose, and the family is off to the “big time” in Los Angeles. The act, steeped in star-spangled banners, dancing horses (Louise plays the rear end), and screaming newsboys moves to Dallas, Akron, New York, Buffalo and Omaha.
Along the way Rose meets Herbie, a theatrical agent, and hires him as manager. He makes himself father to the troupe, sharing with them their meals of chow mein, Rose’s favorite food. Rose scrimps as she schemes and scrambles for bookings and billings to maintain their hand to mouth existence. She sleeps her charges six in a dingy hotel room and makes their costumes from hotel blankets. Her object is to make her two penniless girls into world stars.
The girls begin to grow up and the act becomes “Dainty June and her Newsboys.” Unfortunately its quality does not improve. Bookings are cancelled and the act moves on.
“If Momma would marry…”
Louise wishes that Momma would marry a plain man so they could settle down. Herbie proposes but is rejected. June elopes with Tulsa, one of the boys in the act. Rose sets out to make Louise into the star. She bursts into new enthusiasm with the rousing number “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Behind Rose lies a worrying sense of doom; a feeling that she never will fulfill her dream of stardom for her girls because it is really a dream of stardom for herself.
“You gotta get a gimmick!”
Finally the troupe reaches the bottom, a burlesque house in Wichita. Rose laments that she would rather starve than perform there. Louise realizes there is no vaudeville left except for burlesque. Here the clumsy Louise shoots into stardom by becoming something different: a ladylike stripper. Three strippers, one with a trumpet, one in a ballet costume, and one wearing well-placed electric light bulbs, are used in a most exaggerated, but very funny number, “You Gotta Get a Gimmick,” to indicate the difference between the usual brassy stripper and the very elegant Louise. At last Louise breaks away from her mother and goes out on her own as Gypsy Rose Lee.
Rose bursts into the plaintive “Rose’s Turn” in which she sings of her suppressed talents that she has sacrificed to further the careers of her unappreciative daughters.
The show’s history
Gypsy originally played for 702 performances on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre, starring Ethel Merman as Rose. It played for 300 performances in London with Angela Lansbury as Rose, and has been revived on Broadway no fewer than four times: In 1974 with Angela Lansbury (reprising her London performance), in 1989 with Tyne Daly, in 2003 with Bernadette Peters, and in 2008 with Patti LuPone as Rose, winning several Tony Awards along the way.
Critics have long lavished praise on the show, and the latest revival was no exception. Clive Barnes of the New York Post said Arthur Laurents’s script is “possibly the best book ever for a Broadway musical.” Linda Winer of Newsday called Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics “wrenching and brilliant” and Jule Styne’s music “brassy-bravura,” and said Gypsy “belongs on Broadway for as long as people need musicals.”
“Rarely, in musicals, do you see people of such depth and complexity,” wrote Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press. “Absolute perfection may not be within human grasp; but story, lyrics and music… fuse into a more than reasonable facsimile,” John Simon wrote for Bloomberg. And Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal said, “The show itself is a miracle, one of the top contenders for the title of Best Musical Ever.”
With that pedigree, under the always-innovative direction of Robert Ursan, and with a treasure trove of talented performers to draw on in Regina, Lyric Musical Theatre’s production of Gypsy promises to be one of its finest shows ever.
|Aliah Nelson||Edna & Renee|
|Alice Willett||Balloon Girl|
|Amanda Dancsok||Marjorie May|
|Ben DeWalt||Kansas (Angie) & Bougeron-Cochon|
|Charisma Taylor||Baby Louise|
|David Hopkinson||Uncle Jocko & Kringelein & Cigar|
|Deacon Yathon||L.A. & Stagehand|
|Jaimee Leggett||Baby June|
|Janelle Peters||Thelma & Waitress|
|Jessica Scheuer||Tessie Tura|
|Madison Wagner-Powers||Agnes (Amanda)|
|Mayson Sonntag||News Boy|
|Mason Sliva||News Boy|
|Michael Maslany||News Boy|
|Michael Saigeon||News Boy|
|Norma Lemmerick||Miss Cratchit|
|Taylor Bates||Weber & Phil|
|Victor Salazar||News Boy|
|Zach Flis||Mr. Goldstone & Stage Manager & Pastey|
|Zane Buchanan||Yonkers & Georgie|