Monday, June 30, 2008

Broadway Monday

Gypsy A consummate show-biz musical suggested by the memoirs of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. She was once just plain Louise, the awkward daughter of an unstoppably ambitious stage mother. When her pretty sister runs away from the family's minor vaudeville act, Louise tries to fulfill her mother's dreams. But it's not until trouping with Momma dwindles to appearing in burlesque, that Louise finally finds pleasure in the spotlight.

Considered by many to be the last great musical comedy, Gypsy tells the backstage tale of vaudeville entertainer turned stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and her overbearing mother, Rose. Stephen Sondheim's lyrics--composed in advance of Jule Styne's infectious music--provide a tight structure and natural language to the 1959 score, which produced more than its share of Broadway standards, including "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Small World," "Some People," "If Momma Was Married," "Together Wherever We Go," and the climactic "Rose's Turn." Although the role of Rose has seen subsequent memorable interpretations by Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, and Bette Midler, the show was written for Ethel Merman, and she remains the definitive stage mother.

The role of Momma Rose has been played by many as listed above, but in addition to and currently Patti LuPone. The current revival cast of Patti LuPone, Boyd Gaines, and Laura Benanti all garnered Tony Awards for their performances a few weeks ago at the event.

I've never seen Gypsy on stage, but have watched many clips and footage. Yes, the show is based on the daughter's memoir, but the obvious star of the show is Momma Rose, and if you are going to talk about Momma Rose the first name from your mouth, in my opinion, should be The Merm. Enjoy.

Gypsy is currently playing at the St. James Theatre.

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