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a Musical
by Arthur Laurents, Tephen Sondheim, Jule Styne

COMPANY : Atlanta Lyric Theatre
VENUE : The Strand
ID# 4329

SHOWING : June 15, 2012 - July 01, 2012



Gypsy, the 1959 musical with music by Jule Styne, lyrics byStephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents, is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist, and focuses on her mother, Momma Rose, whose name has become synonymous with "the ultimate show-business mother."Gypsy follows the dreams and efforts of Rose to raise two daughters to perform onstage and casts an affectionate eye on the hardships of show-business life. The musical contains many songs that became popular standards, including "Small World," “Everything's Coming Up Roses,” "You'll Never Get Away From Me" and "Let Me Entertain You." Gypsywill star local stage actress Ingrid Cole as Rose. Winner of the 2010 Suzi Bass Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, Ingrid has previously appeared at The Lyric inThe Pirates of Penzance, The
Music Man,Cinderella and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Other regional credits includeMenopause the Musical, Motherhood the Musical, See What I Want to See and A Catered Affair.

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Ingrid's Turn
by Dedalus
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Since its Broadway debut in 1959, �Gypsy� has been almost universally accepted as the quintessential American Musical, a big and brassy entertainment about entertainment, centered by a larger-than-life character who has become the dream role of any actress/singer �of a certain age.� Ethel Merman, Rosalind Russell, Bette Midler, Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters, Patti Lupone � all have taken a �turn� wearing Mama Rose�s Orthopedic Oxfords and along with her smothering over-inflated sense of self and motherhood and entertainment. All have played to accolades and awards and none (in my recollection) have ever been fully panned � it�s as if something about the role precludes a bad performance � even an actress who doesn�t �get it� will be swept along by the tidal force of Arthur Laurents� dialogue and Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim�s music to turn in an unstoned turn.

Now, Atlanta Lyric Theatre has opened (and sadly closed far too soon) a delightfully old-fashioned production. And now it is Ingrid Cole�s turn to knock off our collective socks with a larger-than-life belt voice, a layered and complex characterization and a way of shouting out �Sing Out, Louise� in a manner guaranteed to shake the knees of the most steely-nerved watcher. That she is matched by one of the most wonderful Louise/Gypsy�s I�ve seen (Jill Ginsberg), is supported by an ensemble of actor/singers that would be the envy of any production company, and is allowed to play on a nicely retro (and expensive-looking) set is just icing on the cake that is this show.

Loosely based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee (and substantially �cleaned up�**), this is the classic backstage story of a mother striving to achieve her dreams of Vaudeville Stardom through the exploitation of her daughters, Louise and �Baby June.� But Vaudeville is dying, her daughters could care less, and the world of entertainment has few (if any) opportunities for women �of a certain age.� What sets this show apart, makes it more than the tale of a monster stage mother, is the vulnerability of Rose, the very real slings and arrows that afflict her, the cross-currents of popular taste and limited offspring talent. She earns our sympathy (in spite of her outrageous actions) when each setback strikes her like so many personal failings, especially when these setbacks are the result of actual personal failings.

The final moments of the play, in which Rose sees her daughter�s fame outstrip her own, in which she shows us (and Gypsy) what she could have been (the exquisitely angry and introspective �Rose�s Turn�), in which mother and daughter take the first steps towards uneasy truce and possible détente -- it�s one of my favorite moments in Musical Theatre, one in which this cast and production realize perfectly.

So, what makes this outing so �delightfully old-fashioned� and �retro?� Let�s start with the uncut Overture and Entr�Acte. When was the last time a musical was actually written with an Overture? When was the last time you saw one included with a revival? It�s an aspect of musicals I�ve decidedly missed. Not only does it give us a sampler of �what�s to come,� it gives us an opportunity to �ease into the show,� to remind us that this is something special, something you can�t get with another media format. Here, it made me love the production before a note was even sung.

The extravagant set design was also unabashedly old-school. There were no (apparent) computerized gimmickry to quickly fly out and replace a set. No, here there are long scene shifts, curtains closed, as the show progresses from one seedy location to another. Normally, I would whine and moan about long scene changes slowing down the pace of a production, but, here, for whatever reason, I not only didn�t mind it, I embraced it � once that Overture brought me into a mindset of a vanishing style of production, the scene shifts reminded me that that was where I would stay.

As is usual, Atlanta Lyric gathered together an outstanding ensemble, led by Ms. Cole and Ms. Ginsberg. I especially liked Alan Kilpatrick�s ever-patient Herbie, Alison Brannon Wilhoit�s June, Alyssa Payne�s Baby June, Emerson Steele�s Baby Louise, and the �Gotta have a Gimmick� trio of Karen Hebert, Marcie Millard, and Kathleen McCook � these ladies achieved the impossible task of making the low-class bump-and-grinders downright respectable (without losing that smutty edge we�ve come to know and expect from this number). All things considered, with everyone playing multiple characters and filling out the many choral numbers, this was another cast that added up to an ensemble greater than the sum of its parts.

So, I really must apologize for my delay in posting these comments. This was a truly wonderful show, and I loved every minute of it. It was a reminder of how musicals have evolved over the past decades by going �old school� and showing us the real pleasures that have been lost as shows have become more modern, more electronic, more razzle-dazzle, and less heartfelt.

And, as Ingrid Cole vividly reminds us, a musical�s gotta have heart!

-- Brad Rudy (

** For a frighteningly vivid (and not-suitable-for-any-stage) look at Mama Rose and Gypsy�s lives, I heartily recommend Karen Abbott�s recent book �American Rose.� If �Gypsy� weren�t such an almost-perfect show, it would be difficult to watch without thinking of the dark dark life of the real Mama Rose. As it is, all memory of Ms. Abbott�s book vanishes with that first �Let me Entertain you.�



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