In January, Musical Cyberspace is going to work through a chain of musicals. This is how it works: each day I will discuss, in brief, a musical linked to the previous day’s musical by some kind of common ground. It follows then, that if you – dear reader – liked the previous day’s show, then you might enjoy the current day’s show. Comments, as alway, are welcome!
If you like Sweeney Todd, then you might like Gypsy.
Both Sweeney Todd and Gypsy feature lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, who explored moments when the protagonist’s mind cracks on stage in musical numbers in each show (cf. “Epiphany” and Rose’s Turn”). The original Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Angela Lansbury, played Rose to great effect in the original West End production of Gypsy, with Patti LuPone following in her footsteps in later Broadway revivals of both shows.
Gypsy tells the story of Rose Hovick, ‘born too soon and started too late’, who pushes her daughters, June and Louise, into careers in show business. When the show starts, June and Louise are a kiddie act in local talent shows. After selling her father’s solid gold service award and a chance meeting with theatrical agent, Herbie, who also becomes Rose’s lover, the act moves to vaudeville and eventually washes up on the tainted shores of burlesque, where Rose convinces the now grown Louise to become a stripper. Can there be any reconciliation for Rose with any of the people in her life after that final push? That’s the question. Highlights include “Some People”, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”, “Together Wherever We Go”, “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” and “Rose’s Turn”.
Gypsy features on of the most complex characters ever created for the musical theatre stage. Arthur Laurents’s book crafts her in bold strokes, leaving room for Sondheim’s lyrics and Jule Styne’s score to fill in the character psychologically. It’s the perfect marriage between book, lyrics and score. The show has had at least one major revival or film in each decade since it premiered and it is quite something to examine how different actresses tackle the role. As regular readers of this blog might know, my favourite Rose is Angela Lansbury. How I do wish that somehow the film adaptation could have been a star vehicle for her.
So, now it’s time to share your thoughts on Gypsy. And what shows would you suggest to fans of this show? See which one we’ll feature here tomorrow…