BWW Review: GYPSY Will Entertain You and Make You Smile, at Broadway Rose
GYPSY is often referred to as the "greatest American musical." And for good reason. It's got everything: a great book, great music, a ton of great roles, and one truly awful mother.
GYPSY is loosely based on the life and memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, one of the most famous burlesque performers of all time. But the show is really about her mother, Rose, a show business mother from hell. New York Times theatre critic Clive Barnes famously called Rose "one of the few truly complex characters in the American musical."
Rose dreamed her entire life about being in show biz, but, as she says, she was "born too soon and started to late." Realizing her time has passed, she sets out to make her daughter June into a vaudeville star, never imagining that Louise, the other daughter who she constantly relegates to the background, will one day become a very highly paid performer...just not in vaudeville.
The current production at Broadway Rose has almost all of the ingredients to make the perfect GYPSY. The huge supporting cast is top notch, starting with the kids - Ryleigh Hefflinger as Baby June, Aida Valentine as Baby Louise, and the rest of the children's ensemble. Kailey Rhodes is flawless as Baby June (is it a quadruple threat if you can sing, act, dance, and twirl a baton?), as are Bryan Thomas Hunt as Tulsa and Danielle Valentine as Tessie Tura. I won't name 'em all, so let's just say: awesome supporting cast.
Now for the big roles. Kelly Sina delivered a first-class performance as Louise. From the moment she unleashed her voice on her first number, "Little Lamb," I was perfectly happy.
In fact, the only performance that didn't live up to expectations was Sharon Maroney's as Rose. She seemed lethargic, rather than an unstoppable force. I got the feeling she was saving her energy for her two act-ending numbers, "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and "Rose's Turn," which she sang with an intensity that was missing from the rest of her performance.
I also question some of Annie Kaiser's directorial choices, particularly with the timing. Some bits, like the scene around the song "Some People" and Louise's birthday party, felt quite slow. She also omitted a good chunk of Gypsy's strip routine, which is one of the most fun parts of the show.
However, none of this prevented me from enjoying GYPSY. It's still an excellent musical, performed by a strong cast. And Broadway Rose is such a solid company that even watching a not-quite-perfect GYPSY is better than doing just about anything else.
GYPSY runs through August 20. More info and tickets here.
Photo credit: Sam Ortega