BWW Interview: Let Them Entertain You as GYPSY Opens at Washington County Playhouse

"Everything's Coming Up Roses" as Gypsy debuts this Saturday at the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater! The ultimate book and backstage musical displays one of the most infamous "stage mothers" in musical theater while providing the back story and origins to one of the most famous burlesque artists, Gypsy Rose Lee.

Directed by Shawn R. Martin, with musical direction by Erin Adams and choreography by Alyssa Little, Gypsy tells the story of the ultimate stage mother, Rose, who pushes her daughters, June and Louise, through the dying days of vaudeville entertainment. With help from former agent, Herbie, Rose is determined that her daughter will be a star..... and Rose gets her wish, but not in the way that anyone expects.

Gypsy is a musical focused on show business and performing, so it naturally required a talented cast to bring the larger than life performer characters alive onstage.

"The cast is so talented! That will speak volumes! We've all worked incredibly hard. Plus, the costumes are amazing and Shawn has put so much work and thought into the entire process" said Chelsea Bondarenko, who plays Tessie. "This cast is definitely a blast to work with. Everybody is so incredibly talented" added Shannen Banzhoff, who plays Louise.

"I think the most enjoyable aspect of rehearsals is watching the show come together piece by piece. I also enjoy all of the actors and actresses bonding during rehearsals and making new friends with people their age along with older and younger actors" said Brenna O'Reilly, who plays Baby Louise.

"Gypsy is a classic, one of Jule Styne's best scores. The leads are tremendous. There is great talent in this cast, and to a man/woman/child, everyone brings it. It's impressive to watch" said Lee Merriman, who plays Uncle Jocko and Weber.

Since Gypsy is the American musical classic, the iconic songs and dances had to meet high expectations and the cast rose to meet the challenge.

"The dancing in this show is phenomenal! Alyssa Little has put together some amazing choreography, especially the tap choreography. Every single dancer in this show has worked so hard to get the dances down. It's extra amazing because it is not easy choreography and all our dancers come from different backgrounds. Some have had extensive tap experience while some have never considered themselves a dancer. It's great to see how they've all come together to make these phenomenal dances come to life" said Banzhoff.

"The dancing in this show is no joke! Even as a dancer, getting each and every tap step right has been a challenge!" said Bondarenko.

"Working with the other Farmboys has been a lot of fun. We are only in a few scenes together, but the big dance we do has been a lot of work and has been fun to work with each other. The dances have also been difficult, particularly the big "Broadway" number and, personally, "All I Need Is the Girl." The latter choreography is very similar to the Broadway choreography, but is even more difficult in places" said Rennes Carbaugh, who plays Tulsa.

The cast members of Gypsy are eager to share this show business musical with an audience at last.

"People should come see the show because it's a musical about the theatre, and the whole cast is very talented" said Jillian Dugan, who plays Baby June.

"This show has all the'll laugh, you'll cry. You really feel all of the ups and downs. It's an emotionally jam-packed show" said Stephanie Allee, who plays Mazeppa

"Gypsy is called "The Great American Musical" for a reason. It's an unbelievably amazing show with incredible music and a story that truly pulls at your heartstrings. Ultimately, it's the incredible story that I think will appeal to audiences the most. It is truly heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time to watch Louise and June grow and to watch how the girls and Rose change over the years" said Banzhoff

Gypsy features Karen Heyser-Paone as Rose, Steve Steele as Herbie, Kaitlyn Marie Lamkin as June, Britany Poindexter as Electra, Ryan Perry as Georgie/L.A./Phil, Evelyn Mueller as Balloon Girl/Tap Dancing Urchin/Newsboy, Jacob Wilson and Katie Mueller as Clarinet Boy/Clarence/Rich Man's Son/Newsboy, Jocelyn R. Merriman as Ballerina/Newsboy, Russell Nye as Pop/Cigar/Mr. Goldstone, Gregory Freeman, Jr. as Little Boy Scout/Newsboy, Jeff Clise as Rich Man/Kringelein/Pastey/Bourgeron-Cochon, Matthew Crawford as Yonkers, Tim Diehl as Angie, Laura J. Martin as Miss Cratchitt, Anne Hunt as Agnes, Abby Moore as Marjorie May/Renée, Madalyn Johnston as Dolores, Ella Snyder as Gail and Layla as Chowsie.

Gypsy runs September 10, 16, 17, 23 and 24, October 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22 and November 4 and 5, with one Sunday matinee on September 18. Dinner hour will begin at 6:00 with the show shortly following at approximately 7:45 for evening performances and lunch hour for the matinee performances begins at 1:00 with the show following at approximately 2:30. For more information about the production or to make reservations, please call the box office at (301) 739-7469 or visit

Photo Credit: Washington County Playhouse/ Hagerstown Herald Mail Media

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From This Author Johnna Leary

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