“Gypsy,” the iconic 1959 Broadway musical loosely based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, a striptease artist who was aggressively peddled by her ambitious show business mother, opens tonight at the Sonoma Community Center.
Sonoma Arts Live’s latest production is set in the 1920s and tells the story of Rose, a vaudeville performer with two pretty daughters, whom she pushes to perform on the circuit. King of entertainment until it wasn’t, vaudeville was fast being replaced by the movies. Feeling adrift and increasingly desperate, Rose turns to her children for salvation.
Baby June embraces the spotlight, but her sister, Louise, suffers from shyness. The girls’ earliest act consists of one song, which—though limiting—somehow garners attention. Baby June in particular attracts industry interest, and she’s offered a spot at a performing arts school. But Rose, the archetypical “momager” of show business legend, refuses to break up the act.
Eventually, Baby June rejects her mother’s vicarious ambitions, elopes with a boy and goes her own way.
Rose and the less-talented Louise soldier on, but venues have gone dark and audiences are changing. When they find themselves accidentally booked at a burlesque house in Kansas, Rose despairs that their end is near. But Louise discovers a surprising aptitude for striptease, evolving over time into “Gypsy Rose Lee,” and the rest — as it’s said — is history.
The score is heralded as canonical to musical theater, and launched the career of lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Numbers like “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” — which Rose sings on the heels of June’s abrupt departure in a notable demonstration of mind over matter, and “Let Me Entertain You” are staples of the Broadway milieu. A seven-piece band under the direction of John Partridge provides accompaniment for the show’s singers through the run.
“Gyspy” features a large cast of actors and dancers, including Daniela Innocenti Beem as Rose, and Danielle Debow as Louise.
“The show explores the world of two-bit show business with brass, humor, heart and sophistication,” said Jaime Love, executive artistic director for Sonoma Arts Live, who is herself cast in the production.
The production is directed by Michael Ross, and choreographed by Michella Snider.
The show runs July 14 to 30; with performances Thursday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
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GYPSY is the classic musical extravaganza about the original stage mother. It is a 1959 musical with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents. Gypsy is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee.
The Sonoma Arts Live production is directed by Michael Ross, and choreographed by Michella Snider. It is the final show in their 'Women Who Dare' season.
Gypsy runs from July 14 to July 30; performances Thursday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m., held on the Rotary Stage at the Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma.
Tickets begin at $22, available at sonomaartslive.org.