Theater Review: GYPSY
Theater: Music Theatre of Connecticut
“Sing out Howard Steven Frydman- tell everyone about “how dreams are being made” at the MTC Mainstage, currently celebrating its 30th Anniversary Season in Norwalk, Connecticut”.
Ok- Here it goes Mama Rose”! (Arggg!, what a stagemom!!)
“Extra!, Extra! Hey look at my headline- theatrical news is being made, Extra!, Extra! Adorable tots, big mouth moms, brassy babes and music by Styne and Sondheim- introducing for your musical enjoyment, one of Broadway’s finest gift of musical theater- currently at MTC- “Gypsy”!
For the uninitiated, “Gypsy”, is not a musical about “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” on TLC or Gypsy dressmaker Sondra Celli, though I could see her dresses come “into play” during Act Two for the darling trio of Mazeppa, Electra and Tessie Tura, but a grand cherished 1959 musical based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease “artist” who details her famous “ultimate stage mom”, and how she went from playing a “costumed cow” in vaudeville to being “the” highest paid and most respected star in Burlesque.
Whenever, I think of “Gypsy”, thoughts often turn to the productions original broadway “star”- Ethel “the BIG Z- Zimmerman” Merman and then to one of my all time favs- Elaine Stritch, who performed the other Big Z – “ZIP” from Rodgers and Hart’s musical “Pal Joey” a delightful, unforgettable tune detailing Gypsy Rose Lees intellectual “thoughts” as she unzipped her zippers. Merman and Stritch – two Big Bold Stars each in their own right and I must state that our “star” Kirsti Carnahan is “Zaftig-ally Devine” in her portrayal of fur-enhanced “Mama Rose”- showcasing her efforts to raise her two raga-muffins daughters and the effects “show biZ” life has on all of them. Yep- everything’s coming up “Z” – it’s Big Z Season in New England!
My eye on the stage- first the “kids” are all too cute, wide-eyed and talented for their own good – kudos to Abby Sara Dahan as “Baby June”, Natalie Steele as “Baby Louise”, Jonah Frimmer as “Young Yonkers” and Charlie Pelletier as “Young Tulsa” – their dancing would have made Gene Kelly proud!! BTW- Entire production originally directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins.
Standout performances go out to the “bigger than life” Peter McClung he stole each scene he is in, and he has many – including that of Mr. Goldstone. I actually would have liked to have seen Peter’s take on the portrayal of “Uncle Jocko and Talent Agent “Herbie”- I’m betting it would have been superb!. The best for last, Joe Grandy as “Tulsa”- he is a dancing “wonder-kin” – his performance in “All I Need is the Girl” awakens the entire audience to joyous appreciative applause and is not to be missed!
As stated, music is by Jules Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim- and all your “American Songbook” favorites abound in “Gypsy” from “Some People”, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and the comical “Mr. Goldstone, I Love You”. By the way sometimes big gifts come in small packages- though the production is performed in an intimate theater in the round- very up close and personal – utilizing a minimal of sets, MTC Executive Artistic Director, Kevin Connors, has provided a rich theatrical experience – I leave MTC’s production of “Gypsy” with a song on my lips- “Let Me Entertain You” – and you certainly have!! Enjoy!!
For info contact: MTC MainStage, 509 Westport Avenue (behind Nine West) in Norwalk, CT. Reservations suggested. http://www.musictheatreofct.com or Call 203.454.3883.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at Howardbatv@aol.com