BWW Review: Let GYPSY Entertain You at Broadway At Music Circus

BWW Review: Let GYPSY Entertain You at Broadway At Music CircusHow far would you go to ensure your child's success? That's the question at the center of this classic 1959 show, which was nominated for 8 Tony Awards. It is based on the 1957 memoir of American burlesque star, Gypsy Rose Lee. The musical focuses on Gypsy's overbearing mother, Mama Rose, and the journey she takes to get her daughters the stardom that she felt that she deserved.

Gypsy packs a powerful Broadway punch with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne, and lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim. The whole thing plays out like a wonderful Technicolor movie, complete with a soaring overture and campy humor. Nostalgia for a bygone era will tug at you as you witness Mama Rose's desperate battle with time and the wheels of change.

Like the autobiography, Gypsy begins with the childhood of June and Louise, who are forced by their mother to chase fame on the Vaudeville circuit. As the girls grow, Mama Rose insists on keeping their act childish despite the fact that they have clearly matured beyond their monikers, "Baby June and the Newsboys," and "Dainty June and Her Farmboys." When June has had enough and leaves, Rose sets her aspirations squarely upon the shoulders of shy, mousy Louise, who is so happy to finally have her mother's attention that she will do anything to please her.

When Louise's act is accidentally booked with a house of burlesque, Mama Rose seems to accept that this is the end of the road to stardom. She has resigned herself to a new life of stability and boredom when the star stripper is arrested, leaving a gaping hole for Louise to fill. This last ditch effort to call attention to her daughter pays off, as Louise transforms into Gypsy Rose Lee. What Rose hasn't realized is that all of her blind ambition has already done its damage. She can't ride on Gypsy's coattails and rise to fame. As she finally admits, she did it for herself.

While it is impossible to feel any ambiguity about Mama Rose, it is equally infeasible to feel uncertain about the woman bringing her back to life. Carolee Carmello is arguably the most powerful performer to grace the stage of Broadway at Music Circus. In turn desperate, cutthroat, vulnerable, and ambitious, Carolee became Mama Rose and let her out in an indomitable fashion with big, belting vocals and a larger-than-life personality in numbers like, "Some People," "You'll Never Get Away From Me," and "Everything's Coming Up Roses." She made us beg for more, but then she gave it to us.

Tickets for Gypsy start at $45 and are available by phone at (916) 557-1999, online at, or in person at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street in Sacramento. Evening performances are Tuesday through Saturday, July 24-28, at 7:30 p.m.; matinee performances are Thursday, July 26 and Saturday, July 28 at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday, July 29 at 3:00 p.m. For more information, visit

Photo credit: Charr Crail

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