Just how far will a mother go to make her little girl a star? The last, desperate gasps of vaudeville provide the backdrop for Gypsy, a timeless story of ambition and family. Featuring classic songs like "Let Me Entertain You" and "Everything's Coming Up Roses," Gypsy is a vivid retelling of the emergence of the little girl who would become the notorious Gypsy Rose Lee--with a little help from mom. The Express production of this landmark of musical theatre features cabaret sensation Libby Whittemore and a posse--say, 22--of Atlanta's finest performers.
Gypsy opened at the Broadway Theatre on May 21, 1959 and closed on March 25, 1961 after 702 performances. It was made into a motion picture starring Natalie Wood and Rosalind Russell in 1963 and a TV movie starring Bette Midler in 1993. A Broadway revival was staged in 1974 with Angela Lansbury and again in 1989 with Tyne Daley.
Suggested by the memoirs of the notorious stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, Gypsy tells the story of Rose, an overbearing stage mother who is determined to break into the big time by pushing the vaudeville career of her younger daughter June. However, unwilling to tolerate her mother's manipulations, June elopes with a dancer. Rose then turns all of her attention to her older and less talented daughter Louise. Rose's dreams come to fruition when Louise's career takes off on the burlesque circuit as a stripper. Confronting the reality that she is no longer needed in her daughter's life, the play concludes with Rose and Louise coming to an understanding about the true legacy of a mother's desire to live out her own dreams through her children.
Theatre people are obsessed with stories about theatre people. We know deep down that the very pathologies that fuel our commitment to this work-low pay and crazy hours and the constant emotional roller coaster of approval and validation inherent in a performer's life-well, that stuff makes for great theatre. And there's no more vivid rendering of a performer's drive than this beautiful story of a mother who lives through her daughters.
Our creative team's outstanding-the amazing Libby Whittemore, Obie-winning director Emma Griffin, pageant designer Jay Reynolds on clothes, not to mention a cast of 21 humans AND a little dog called Rambo - Gypsy is easily the largest project the theatre has undertaken in my three seasons here. With its relevance to the season's core themes-lost innocence, and the liberating, redemptive power of performance-and the sheer resources it demands to bring it to life, it's no exaggeration to say we've built our year around it. Plus, it's really fun to open a season with Gypsy, the definitive American musical, and close it with Hedwig, her crazy, trouble-making progeny.