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Five Fun Facts About GYPSY

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As reported by BroadwayWorld, plans are set for the BBC to film the London production of Gypsy this month, preserving the highly acclaimed performance of Imelda Staunton as Rose.

With four Broadway revivals, two West End productions, a movie and an already existing television version, some may scoff that Gypsy is done too often, but really, you can't blame great actresses for wanting to take on one of the American musical theatre's greatest roles.

So, in celebration of another version to enjoy, here are Five Fun Facts About Gypsy:

1. The musical's most famous line was not in the original script, as shown on an episode of THEATER TALK by Tony Cointreau, author of ETHEL MERMAN, MOTHER THERESA.... AND ME, when he offered a glance at the star's rehearsal script.

2. "Little Lamb" was almost cut from the score. Nearly everyone on the creative end agreed it was slowing down the first act, but composer Jule Styne threatened to contact his lawyers and pull all of his music if the song was cut. Some might assume the reason was at least partially because he was often seen keeping company with Sandra Church, who originated the role of Louise. Church, by the way, won the role over second choice, Suzanne Pleshette.

3. Jack Klugman never imagined himself as a musical theatre leading man and had to be convinced to audition for Herbie. The creators wanted a solid dramatic actor for the role and so did the star. Klugman once recalled, "She really wanted me. So she sang to me very quietly, and her voice cracked, and she went flat. But there was such love in it." Still, when he was asked to rehearse a new solo for Herbie, "Nice She Ain't," he sang through it a few times and then refused to perform it, or any solo, in front of an audience.

4. Marilyn Cooper, fresh off her comic performance as WEST SIDE STORY's original Rosalia, originated the comic role of Hollywood Blonde Agnes. Though she spent her career playing funny, unglamorous women, winning a Tony Award for her hilarious turn in WOMAN OF THE YEAR (pictured), she also served briefly as Louise's understudy and went on for one performance without the benefit of a rehearsal of the second act.

5. That spectacular 11 o'clock number, "Rose's Turn" includes sections that echo music the audience has already heard in "Some People" and "Everything's Coming Up Roses." But there's one major section, "Mama's talkin' loud...," from a moment that was cut from the score. Observing their mother manipulating Herbie with "Small World" from a perch above, Babies June and Louise were meant to sing "Mama's Talkin' Soft" as a commentary, but it turned out one of the children was afraid of heights so the moment was cut. That didn't stop Petula Clark from giving the number a shot.

Speaking of "Rose's Turn," there's some wonderful color home movie footage of Merman performing the number on stage at the end of this video showing backstage glimpses of rehearsals.

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From This Author Michael Dale