30 Days Of The 2014 Tony Awards: Day #29 - GYPSY
Today we continue the 2014 edition of our annual BroadwayWorld feature series spotlighting the very best Tony Awards-related moments of all time with a special spotlight on one of the most revered and revived musicals of all time, GYPSY!
Together Wherever We Go
Just what exactly is it about the cumulative effect of a performance of Golden Age musical GYPSY that makes it so unforgettable? Besides boasting of the most tuneful, varied and dramatic scores ever to be penned by Broadway stalwart Jule Styne, the musical also showcases sparkling lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim as well as a brilliantly built book by Arthur Laurents. Then, on top of it all, there are the directorial and performance opportunities! Although what Jerome Robbins as director/choreographer and Ethel Merman as formidable star introduced in the original Broadway production more than 50 years ago is in its own unique way unsurpassable, there have been some inventive and innovative new directorial visions featuring some smashing star turns afforded to the rich legacy of GYPSY in the intervening years.
Without a doubt, Ethel Merman is a Broadway icon with few, if any, equals, the astounding assortment of leading ladies who have taken on the role of Madame Rose in subsequent productions on the Great White Way is a list to beat the band. Angela Lansbury came first, after having had a huge success in the UK under the direction of Arthur Laurents, while fellow 1980s TV queen Tyne Daly made her mark on the role under the attentive eye of the bookwriter, as well. Then, Bernadette Peters and director Sam Mendes broke the mold and introduced GYPSY to the 21st century with a 2003 bow. After that, Laurents once again took the helm and created what many now consider the definitive post-Robbins/Merman iteration of the classic backstage tuner - starring none other than modern Broadway royalty, Patti LuPone.
Merman. Lansbury. Daly. Peters. LuPone. Each and every one decidedly different but similarly effective in their wildly varied takes on the complex, challenging role of Rose. Robbins. Mendes. Laurents. Each with a specific vision and an effective way in which to carry it out. While fans will squabble for decades to come over which was best and why, it is an undeniable fact that GYPSY is as good as musicals get.
So, now, let's take a look at some of the most showstopping GYPSY-related Tony Awards moments to date.
Beginning with the originator herself, here is Ethel Merman's spine-tingling performance at the 1972 Tony Awards.
Now, sample Angela Lansbury's take on GYPSY with the 1989 show opener.
After that, Bernadette Peters stops the show with "Rose's Turn".
Lastly, Patti LuPone launches full force into GYPSY at the 2008 Tony Awards.
So, which is your absolute favorite take on the sensational Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim/Arthur Laurents musical GYPSY? Furthermore, what star stopped your heart as well as the show? Additionally, what directorial vision is your particular favorite? With source material so rich and performance opportunities as copious, GYPSY is sure to remain a Broadway staple for many seasons in the future just as it has been for many, many seasons in the past.