So I found out today that the Library of Congress finally came to their senses and added one of the greatest classic Diva shows to their records. The Library of Congress added in the original cast recording of Broadway’s Gypsy Rose Lee. Gypsy is one of the most classic and well known shows and almost every major Broadway Diva has graced this show.
Bette Midler took it to the movies, Patty Lupone brought it to a revival, Ethel Merman gave a whole new meaning to how to work a song and even Bernadette Peters who to me could never do any song wrong worked it. Almost every major star has worked this show or a song from this Steven Sondheim show including a new Diva, Kurt, from the hit TV show Glee who modified it for his Character. Anyways, Gypsy is the classic show that is cheesy, funny and one that you will leave the theatre loving. It satisfies about everyone’s broadway needs but without any of the big budget special effects you find in shows like Wicked or Hairspray.
Gypsy is the story of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous stripper or burlesque dancer from the 20’s or 30’s. You’ll have to check for sure if you want the actual dates when she was alive and performing. The twist on it is that instead of the story being told about her and from her point of view, it is told from the side of how her Mom whose actual name was Rose brought her to fame and how she became Gypsy Rose Lee.
Rose is your typical Stage Mom. She pushes her daughters to perform, to sing to dance, she even has a quote in there “Smile Baby”, she is your typical stage and pageant mom. She gets her daughters June and Louise on the stage and in the spotlight whenever she can and whether they like it or not. June is the opposite of her older sister Lousie.
June is very outgoing and extremely perky. When you combine that with an adorable girl who has some talent you eventually find a producer or agent that will take her. Eventually June does find this Producer and abandons Louise and Rose to go off on her own and pretty much writes herself out of the show. Once she is gone and Rose cannot find another talent to replace her, she turns to her other daughter Louise.
Louise is a shy and timid girl who doesn’t want attention and doesn’t really think she is that talented. She plays odd characters like a cow named Caroline in Roses’s shows which feature June. Louise also carries her thoughts and dreams inside, kind of like how she has a crush on one of the chorus boys who is also one of the lead male dancers in their group. When Louise finally gets the courage to tell him (through song of course) she also ends up discovering that she naturally knows how to tap dance (yup, a broadway show where you all of the sudden discover you can naturally tap dance, very believable). When she finally gets some private and alone time with her crush, he ends up telling her he is about to leave her and Rose just like June did. Even though she had the option to leave with him, Louise decides to stick with her mom. This same cycle continues to go on and on and on. As Louise and Rose go through these same cycles over and over about getting somewhat famous, then falling then fame, then climbing, then falling, eventually they both get to the point where they can no longer perform since they are to old for a kids routine and no one wants to see it.
June is gone, the talent is gone and they are at a burlesque theatre in a strange city which unfortunately for them is not a regular crowd who wants to see a show where they can do their act with their “pet cow”. As a last minute resort to keep on top and make enough money to live, Rose convinces Louise that the show must go on and the last word she gives her daughter before she shoves her on to the stage to become a stripper is to at least be a lady, and Louise does.
Not only does Louise not bare it all but she also learns how to be confident, understand she is pretty, knows that she is intelligent and gets that if she teases, the audience will pay more for her next time because they will get more. This same theatre where her mom shoved her on stage and told her to be a lady is also the one that gave her her name, Gypsy Rose Lee. Gypsy because they were nomads and wanderers, her mom was name Rose and Lee,,,well I’m not sure about how she got Lee unless Lee is short for Louise. From their her career took off and Louise became Gypsy Rose Lee and Gypsy Rose Lee took over the world of burlesque. But that still didn’t satisfy Rose.
Rose was a stage Mom. She wanted her daughters to have fame and a fabulous life. She did everything to keep her daughters on stage and performing. She spent all her savings, gave her food away, usually Chinese food and there is even a song about giving Chinese food to an investor, and eventually she realizes that she gave everything but her spirit away to everyone and “For What?” “Why did I do it. What did it get me”? It leads into one of the most memorable songs in Broadway history and one of the highlights of the show. It is the scene where Rose finally says what she wants and when she realizes it is to late for her she discovers all she really wanted was love. Even though she chased everyone away because of her drive for fame, there is one person left for her and that person is waiting for her when she finishes her song. Many people mistake attention and wanting fame for love and just wanting to be loved. If they don’t know what love feels like then they think attention and fame are the same thing. Rose eventually figures it out just before it is too late and luckily the man she loves is still there for her.
Gypsy is the story of the Stage Mom and her life. You can follow her from her daughters being kids to grown women and during the show you’ll hear some of the most loved songs in musical theatre. Everything’s Coming Up Roses, Have an Eggroll Mr. Goldstone, Let Me Entertain You and many more. Gypsy is a great classic show if you want loud notes and fun loud songs that really require a ton of talent. It is always a classic show for me but if you’re not into theatre it probably isn’t for you. If you do love theatre then this is a must see show. Gypsy gets 3 and a half stars out of 5 from me. I do highly recommend it if you want to see a classic show with a great score.