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Ravinia Announces LuPone's Turn in Gypsy for Summer '06

Patti LuPone, who recently drew raves for her current performance in the Sweeney Todd revival, will soon take on one of the most towering female roles in musical theatre--that of monstrous stage mother Rose in Gypsy. She will play Rose from August 11th through 13th at the Ravinia Festival.

Along with Audra McDonald, LuPone has been the queen of the Ravinia Festival in the last five years, appearing in five concert productions of Stephen Sondheim shows--Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Desiree in A Little Night Music, Yvonne in Sunday in the Park with George, Fosca in Passion and most recently, Cora in Anyone Can Whistle. The latter was to have been the culminating show in the Chicago festival's 75th birthday tribute to Sondheim, but Welz Kauffman, president and CEO of Ravinia, recently told the Chicago Sun-Times that an extension would be likely due to the success of the shows.

"Gypsy will be a rare opportunity to hear one of the world's great orchestras performing one of the most significant works of the American stage and with a legendary star cast in a role that seems meant for her. . . . Gypsy is the perfect transition as we widen the Sondheim 75 series to present work by other masters of music theatre. That's because not only will we get to hear the CSO give the royal treatment to the best work of one of the great American tune-smiths, Jule Styne, but all us who crave an annual Sondheim showcase from Ravinia will still have his lyrics to enjoy," stated Kauffman.

Lonny Price is set to direct the musical, which despite its title, is really the story of the stage mother who unconsciously and uncompromisingly lives out her show business dreams through her daughters June and Louise (with the latter becoming stripper Gypsy Rose Lee). LuPone has professed interest in playing Rose in the past, but a notorious dispute with Arthur Laurents, Gypsy's librettist, is said to have kept her from taking on the role in a major production. Sondheim, of course, was the lyricist of Gypsy, while Jule Styne wrote the music. Paul Gemigani will conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the Ravinia production.

LuPone has been one of Broadway's foremost leading ladies since her star-making turn in 1979's Evita, for which she won a Tony Award. The star, who graduated from Julliard and was a member of John Houseman's famed Acting Company in the '70s.  Broadway credits include Noises Off, The Old Neighborhood, Master Class, Anything Goes (Tony nomination), Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Oliver!, Working, The Three Sisters, The Robber Bridegroom (Tony nomination) and The Beggar's Opera; she has also starred in Pal Joey and Can-Can at Encores! Additionally, she originated the role of Fantine in the London production of Les Miserables, starred as Norma Desmond in the 1993 West End production of Sunset Boulevard (her last appearance in a fully-staged musical), and played Genevieve in the original production of The Baker's Wife. LuPone is also a noted screen actress, having appeared in such films as Summer of Sam and State and Main.

Gypsy
opened at the Imperial Theatre on May 25th, 1959 and ran for 702 performances, garnering 8 Tony nominations (it was overshadowed by the more sugary The Sound of Music). Gypsy featured a star turn by Ethel Merman that has become legendary, and it also featured Sandra Church, Jack Klugman and Maria Karnilova. A number of revivals--in 1974 with Angela Lansbury, in 1989 with Tyne Daly and in 2003 with Bernadette Peters and directed by Sam Mendes--have all been successes.

To reserve tickets for Gypsy, call
(847) 266-5100 or visit www.ravinia.org.

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