Patti as 'Mama Rose' - wonder what Mr. Laurents has to say!

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Patti LuPone Will Be Mama Rose in Ravinia Gypsy
By Andrew Gans
10 Nov 2005

Tony Award winner Patti LuPone, who is currently starring in the acclaimed Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd, will head the cast of another Stephen Sondheim musical this summer at Chicago's Ravinia Festival.

LuPone will join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for three performances of the classic Sondheim-Jule Styne-Arthur Laurents musical Gypsy Aug. 11-13. The Tony and Olivier Award-winning actress will star as the indomitable Mama Rose, the role created on Broadway by Ethel Merman and subsequently played by Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly and, most recently, Bernadette Peters. The Chicago engagement will mark the first time LuPone has played the stage mother of all stage mothers.

Lonny Price will direct the Chicago production, and Paul Gemignani will conduct the famed orchestra. No other casting has been announced.

Gypsy will be LuPone's sixth musical at the Ravinia. She has previously appeared in their summer productions of Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George, Passion and Anyone Can Whistle.

In a statement, Ravinia Festival President and CEO Welz Kauffman said, "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."

Gypsy features a score by Jule Styne (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and a book by Arthur Laurents. The musical bowed on Broadway in May 1959 at the Broadway Theatre, playing 702 performances before closing at the Imperial Theatre, where it later transferred, on March 25, 1961.

A Tony Award winner for her work in Evita, Patti LuPone also earned an Olivier Award for her performances in the West End productions of Lés Misérables and The Cradle Will Rock. Her other theatrical credits include Sunset Boulevard, Anything Goes, Oliver!, Working, The Old Neighborhood, Master Class and Pal Joey. LuPone also headlined two solo Broadway concerts, Patti LuPone On Broadway and Matters of the Heart, and received glowing notices for her performance as Mrs. Lovett in the Lincoln Center concert version of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.

Gypsy tickets can now be reserved by calling (847) 266-5100 or by visiting www.ravinia.org.
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Well technically, he can't say anything! He wouldn't have control over LuPone being cast in a regional theatre (or concert) production - only a major revival of the show.

Good for Patti. She should have a chance to play this role and it will be a good follow up to her triumph in SWEENEY TODD.

By the way, LuPone's contract with SWEENEY is up in June. This doesn't interfere - unless she extends -- which, if she wins the Tony, she just might do.
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I'll be there.

And Laurents can't stop a staged reading of the show in Chicago -- thank goodness.
"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
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Can someone explain to me why he would oppose her casting?
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Several years ago, Laurents and Lupone had a falling out over a regional production of his play "Jolson Sings Again." I've heard various reasons, but the real story seems to be that she wanted some guarantee from Laurents that he not only planned to take the show to Broadway and that if it made it, then she would be the star (she'd been burned in past). When he wouldn't/couldn't give her any reassurance, she withdrew from the production. Laurents SEETHED and blames her for the play never progressing beyond a few regional productions (truth be told: the reviews were always mediocre and Lupone was smart not to do it -- with or without Lupone, it'll never see Broadway).

So, ever since then Laurents has refused to allow any show of his to be produced with her on Broadway (under the Dramatist Guild contract, he has approval rights over casting of the original production, as well as any subsequent major revival of his work -- a staged reading at Ravinia doesn't count). The lead in GYPSY is the only plum role of his for her, though she did just do Cora in ANYONE CAN WHISTLE at the Ravinia Festival with that awful book from Laurents. Lupone got good notices, though. And Laurents was powerless to stop it.

"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
Updated On: 11/10/05 at 02:00 AM
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I am just really excited to hear that Patti is FINALLY going to be playing Mama Rose. She is this part, and I can't wait to see this unfold. Patti is going to kick ass in this role.
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Michael Cerveris as Herbie? Audra as...Louise?
PEACE.
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Patti would ROCK as Rose!! That is not taking anything away from Merman, Daly, Lansbury, Peters, Buckley or any other "Mama Rose's" (Including Midlers' tour de force on film!) but she will ADD to this fine bunch. On a lighter note, I hear Andrea MacArdle played Mama Rose somewhere in Texas - is that so??
Margo, I wish you would do an "Ask Margo" feature, You are a wealth of knowledge, style & class, Kudo's to you!
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I agree that Patti will kick a** in this role.

*Goes to plan trip to Chicago. Anyone have an extra place for me to stay? HaHa
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McArdle played Rose in Houston, summer of 2004.
"What a story........ everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end." -- Birdie [http://margochanning.broadwayworld.com/] "The Devil Be Hittin' Me" -- Whitney
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I'd love to hear Andrea McCardle in this role, is she the only Broadway star to interpret this role at her age? An actress her age as Momma Rose sounds very interesting, she should release an album with some songs from the show. Has the Ravinia released any recordings of their previous Sondheim tributes? The only stage version of Gypsy I've seen is the 2003 revival (my first Broadway show) and I have never been as impacted by a performer as I was that night by Peters, I'm sure LuPone will bring a totally different side to the role, I'd love to see her take on "Rose's Turn."
Margo, I agree with the others, you are such a gift to this board, have you written/edited any books? I still can't get over your retelling of Jenniffer Holliday singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," so mesmerizing!
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I will be there.
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Wow. Practically speechless. Y'all can stay with me re: Patti as 'Mama Rose' - wonder what Mr. Laurents has to say!
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I do look forward to this. The Sondheim series has been outstanding and so has Patti.
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I am already planning on getting friends into Chicago to see this. I saw her do Anyone Can Whistle and can't wait to see her do more! Even if this isn't my favorite show, I'm sure I'll have a greater appreciation for it once I see her do it.
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Haven't missed one yet. Really looking forward to this one.
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Not that the comparison goes much beyond this... but I've always thought Andrea McArdle's adult singing voice sounded a lot like Bernadette Peters.

I would love to have heard Andrea do this. And she is the right age for the part, realistically. Were her acting chops up to it?

I have no doubt that Patti will nail Mama Rose. She will be sensual, manipulative, and wrap her voice around the ballads and tear up on the dramatic songs. This is one I really wish they would record. (Yeah, I know there are like 30 versions of Gypsy out there already.)
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yay...but..but..where's audra????
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Clearly, Audra as Rose, and Michael as Herbie. Although, if he's still in Sweeney, Herbie not be worth leaving for, except as a lark.
"They have never understood, and no reason that they should. But if anybody could . . . " --SS
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I vote for Audra as Herbie, and Michael as Dainty June.

(...or is it Baby Jane?)
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Well, as I was typing "as a lark", I was thinking of Audra as Tessie Tura and Michael as Mazzeppa, for a real lark.
"They have never understood, and no reason that they should. But if anybody could . . . " --SS
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Okay I adore all three of these performers, but has anyone at the Ravinia (crew, audience) begun to feel like the summer season has become the Audra-Patti-Michael summerstock? Of course they are all brilliant performers, but there are other Broadway stars? I'd think the audiences in particular might like seeing some fresh blood.
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Absolutely, but there is a whole summer of programming at Ravinia. (I mean, I assume there is, I get a lot of email from them, I confess I only go for this stuff...)

I think the idea of these three really stellar performers working their way through Sondheim is a lot of fun.
"They have never understood, and no reason that they should. But if anybody could . . . " --SS
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There are no other Broadway stars. Only these three.

They will play ALL of the roles in every show... forever.

MUSIC MAN:
Marian the Librarian - Audra
Harold Hill - Michael
The Mayor's Wife AND Mrs. Paroo - Patti

GUYS & DOLLS:
Sky - Michael
Sarah Brown - Audra
Adelaide - Patti

CAMELOT:
Guenevere - Audra
Lancelot - Michael
King Arthur - Patti

WICKED:
Elphaba - Patti
Galinda - Audra
Fiyero - Michael

RENT:
Mimi - Audra
Roger - Michael
Maureen - Patti

THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA:
Margaret - Patti
Clara - Audra
Fabrizio - Michael

SHOW BOAT:
Magnolia - Audra
Gaylord - Michael
The River - Patti

A CHORUS LINE:
Sheila - Patti
Zach - Michael
Diana - Audra
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Updated On: 11/10/05 at 10:16 AM
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Now, now....
"They have never understood, and no reason that they should. But if anybody could . . . " --SS