Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by William Osetek
Music Direction by Robert Duchak
& Ben Johnson
Choreographed by Tammy Mader
At Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook
Traditional remount of the classic backstage musical worth seeing
Gypsy is my # 4 All-Time favorite musical and I have seen many terrific productions of this backstage classic. Drury Lane Theatre’s standard production is worthy despite sub pare sets and a sound mix that was too loud. But the score by Julie Stein and the lyrics by Stephen Sondheim together with Arthur Laurents’ book blend together to entertain us.
Tammy Mader’s classic choreography, danced well using the vaudeville number and tap combinations with has some funny bits in the “Mr. Goldstone, I Love You” number. Matthew Crowle, as Tulsa, glides through the “All I Need Is The Girl” number nicely. The boys, Crowle (Tulsa), Jonathan Kwock (Yonkers) and Alex McCrary (L.A.) dance their hearts out.
Andrea Prestinario, as Lousie, makes the transition from a ‘no-talent’ vaudevillian to the slick stripper Gypsy Rose Lee adequately. Andrea Collier as Dainty June was excellent. Both her and Prestinario danced and sang their duet, “If Momma Was Married” in fine harmony. David Kortemeier’s Herbie was a serviceable complement to the charismatic Mama Rose. The show stopper, “You Gotta Have a Gimmick” was a hoot with sexy Cheryl Avery as Mezeppa (with horn), Susan Lubeck’s Tessie (with finesse) and the hilariously underplayed Electra (with lighting) from Frances Asher each showing their stripping skills.
Featuring a brassy toe-tapping vaudevillian score from Jule Styne and clever lyrics for a young Stephen Sondheim, Gypsy is the quintessential backstage Broadway musical that audiences adore.
The ambitious, driven ultimate stage mother, Mama Rose is one of the great characters in all of American Broadway musicals. Any production of Gypsy depends on who plays Mama Rose. New Yorker Klea Blackhur’s booming voice channeled Ethel Merman takes over as the determined stage mother. Her voice grated on me after a time but Blackhurst’s best moments were when she sang. She commands her scenes especially when she blurts out “Sing Out, Louise” as storms onto the stage. We know instantly that Rose is in charge here. Mama Rose has that blend of toughness without being nasty; that staunch determination to make her daughter a star. Blackhurst has fine comedic timing that together with her body language and vocal tones gives Mama Rose substance as she earns our empathy.
Blackhurst’s leather voice allowed her to lands the “Some People” with fanatical determination; smoothly charms Herby in “Small World,” and motivates Louise in the stirring anthem “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Her rendition of the fantastic “Rose’s Turn,” where Rose lets loose all the emotions from a lifetime of dreams was effectively performed.
Gypsy is a classic back stage story of vaudeville and of a mother’s living her life through her children. It is also about the rise of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famed stripper. Drury Lane Theatre’s production is certainly worth seeing since Klea Blackhurst’s dreams get us ‘entertained.’
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: January 26, 2012
At Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace, IL, call 630-530-0111, www.drurylaneoakbrook.com, tickets $35 -$46, Wednesdays at 1:30 pm, Thursdays 1;30 & 8 pm, Fridays at 8:30 pm, Saturdays at 5 & 8:30 pm, Sundays at 2 & 6 pm, running time is 2 hours, 25 minutes with intermission, through April 1, 2012