‘Gypsy’ Rose Lee lives again
July 5, 2011
Although "Gypsy: The Legendary Musical" is about burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee, the production is appropriate for all ages, said producer Daniel Simons of the Dark Horse Company Theatre.
"While there are a few gimmicks in the show in regards to the older burlesque performers, it’s still a family show," Simons said during an interview with The Park Record at the Egyptian Theatre. "It’s also a story about family and misguided intentions."
"Gypsy: The Legendary Musical," will run at the Egyptian Theatre, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 8 through 31.
The story is based on true accounts of Lee’s life, said Simons, who is co-producing the show with Gamyr Worf.
"It’s also a story about her mother, Mama Rose," he explained. "It’s about her lust for success and how she lived through her children, like any stage or pageant mom you hear about today.
"She was a woman who had this extreme passion for her children and their success, for better or for worse," he said. "That intense passion forced her children especially her daughter Louise into what they eventually became, which was probably not necessarily what she had intended."
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Arthur Laruentis, who penned "West Side Story," wrote "Gyspy," which premiered in 1959. "West Side Story" lyricist Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics and Jule Styne wrote the music.
It was adapted into a film, starring Natalie Wood, as Louise/Gypsy, in 1962.
"The production has been around for a long time," Simons said. "Some people call it the quintessential musical and it is often considered the best ever written. Others also believe any musical written since then is based on the formula used for ‘Gypsy.’ It’s fantastic."
The main challenge of producing "Gypsy" at the Egyptian Theatre is all logistic, Simons said.
"First off, it’s humongous," he said with a smile. "It’s a 26-person cast, and, right now, we’ve cut the 17-piece orchestra to an eight-piece. It really shouldn’t fit in the Egyptian Theatre, by any means, because it’s a Broadway-sized show with Broadway-sized orchestrations. To be able to bring it here to the Egyptian is a privilege and a challenge."
The challenge aside, Simons said "Gypsy," although big, fits in with Dark Horse’s philosophy.
"We usually choose shows that are smaller, edgier musical theatre that some people don’t know about like ‘Reefer Madness’ and ‘Great American Trailer Park,’ but we wanted to show that we could do classical musical theatre and do it well. At the same time, we wanted to choose something that would fit, meaning it wasn’t going to be mainstream and fluffy or light.
"So we’re telling the story about a stripper who owns a heart of gold," he laughed. "We are super excited about this one. It’s big, fun and heartfelt."
The cast includes Teresa Sanderson as Mama Rose. Baby June is played by Elise Groves. Jon McBride is Herbier. And Lauren Knoll is Louise, who becomes Gypsy Rose Lee.
"Gypsy," which is directed by Tracy Callahan and choreographed by Willie Richardson, is the perfect production to close out the Productions on Main joint venture between the Egyptian Theatre, Dark Horse and Plan-B Theatre Company, Simon said.
"We’re not sure if the partnership will continue into a new series or not, but this is the tail end of the idea this year," Simons said. "This is the peak. The other two shows ‘Tick, Tick BOOM!’ and ‘Gutenberg: The Musical’ were smaller, so this, with it being so big, is the top of the rollercoaster.
"Musicals on Main" was a necessary partnership in this day and age, Simons said.
"It does have its own difficulties, because you have more cooks in the kitchen, obviously, but each company maintains it’s own production staff and own production," he said. "It’s a way to survive, because we wouldn’t make it on our own without the Egyptian Theatre, to be sure."
Dark Horse Company Theatre’s "Gypsy: The Legendary Musical" will run Fridays, Saturday and Sundays, July 8-31, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main Street. Friday and Saturday curtain is 8 p.m. Sunday’s curtain is 6 p.m. Tickets are $22 in advance, $25 at the door. Tickets for children aged 12 and younger are $15. Cabaret Tables available for picnics and BYOB $30/seat. For more information and tickets, visit http://www.parkcityshows.com.