BWW Review: GYPSY at Castle Craig Players
On Saturday, July 27, I had the pleasure of seeing the Castle Craig Players production of the musical GYPSY at the Almira F. Stephan Memorial Playhouse in Meriden, CT. This tale, based on a true story, has book written by Arthur Laurents, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Ian Galligan provides spectacular direction to this phenomenal cast, with the help of Chris Coffey as musical director and conductor of the talented live six piece band, and Erin Coffey as choreographer.
This is a sad story of June, Louise, and their domineering helicopter mother Rose. Rose tries to live vicariously through her daughters, by aggressively trying to make them stars of the stage, something that Rose only dreamed of being during her youth. Rose enlists the help of an agent named Herbie, who becomes Rose's love interest. While Herbie falls for Rose, too, Herbie wants marriage, while Rose who is three times divorced is hesitant in wanting to marry again. This musical has a fascinating unconventional structure in that, to an audience member unfamiliar with the story, no one would think, based on the first of the two acts, that this is really the true story of Louise, who as a burlesque performer went by the stage name, "Gypsy Rose Lee." Louise is the elder of the two sisters, but June is the one who Rose initially tried to make into the star.
This show features an incredibly talented children's ensemble with excellent vocal projection and movement synchronicity skills. Ainsley Dahlstron leads the children's ensemble as Baby June, with Madison Rella as Baby Louise. Chris Jaylin Mora, Mateo Velasquez-Maineri, and Liani Torres complete the children's ensemble with all five of these young cast members shining brightly on stage.
After a strobe light effect, the children age, with Chelsea Dacey taking over as June, Voni Kengla as Louise, and Tyler Caisse, Nick Ciasullo, and Logan Molinari completing the performing act that Rose still tries to make into a success.
The stage dynamics between Lauren Linn as Rose and Voni Kengla are very strong, as is that of them both with Bill Rodman who plays Herbie. These are the three roles and cast members who provoke the strongest emotions from the audience, in this drama. All three cast members make the most of their respective characters. They also perform what is in my strongly held opinion, the standout song of this musical, "Together Wherever We Go."
Mike Souney, and Arthur Canova provide convincing performances in multiple roles, while Kathy Wade, Marsha Howard Karp and Lisa DeAngelis are believable as characters that influence Louise to become a burlesque performer.
Will Rose and Herbie get married? If so, when? Why does Rose suddenly switch her attention from her younger daughter June, to her older daughter Louise? How will Louise respond to the sudden new expectations placed upon her to suddenly be more than just the "and company" to her sister, but to be the star of a newly branded act that now has three female back-up performers that Dana Rudansky, Jennifer Del Sole, and Katie Kirtland portray strongly during their cameos. Will Rose allow Louise to be Louise, or will Rose try to make Louise into June or otherwise into someone else who Rose wants Louise to be? Come to the show and find out!
For mature audiences, I highly recommend GYPSY, which the Castle Craig Players have scheduled to continue to run at the Almira F. Stephan Memorial Playhouse in Meriden, CT. through August 10, 2019. For times and tickets, please go to Gypsy Tickets.