Local run of `Gypsy' to open on Saturday


March 01, 2001|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It's a good bet that "Gypsy" will always be playing somewhere.

One of Broadway's most distinguished shows, it gave theater legend Ethel Merman her greatest role as Mama Rose with its opening in 1959, and has been brought back in revivals there and in film.

The latest local production opens Saturday at the Chesapeake Music Hall dinner theater for a seven-week run.

Owner, choreographer and Jill-of-all-trades Sherry Kay Anderson will be heading the cast in Merman's famous role.

Based on the autobiography of burlesque stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, the Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim musical centers on quintessential stage mother Rose Novick, who "has a dream" that younger daughter June can break into show business.

Determined to push both of her daughters, June and Louise, into a vaudeville career, Rose finances their trip to Los Angeles by stealing her father's gold retirement plaque.

In California, Rose meets former agent Herbie and persuades him to represent her girls.

Herbie eventually turns "Baby June and her Newsboys" into a top vaudeville act, but their success is short-lived because vaudeville is dying.

Tired of her mother's manipulation, a grown-up June elopes with tap-dancer Tulsa.

Rose then turns her attention to Louise, reworking the old act, trying to turn her into June.

Renamed "Rose Louise and Her Hollywood Blondes," the act winds up in a burlesque house, where Rose decides to transform Louise into a stripper - and a disgusted Herbie departs.

Eventually Louise becomes the world-famous Gypsy Rose Lee, who no longer needs Mama Rose to promote her - which Rose has difficulty accepting.

Much of the show's continuing success can be attributed to Styne's great score with lyrics by Sondheim. Classic numbers include: "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Some People," "Let Me Entertain You" and "All I Need is the Girl."

The 1962 film version starred Rosalind Russell as Rose and Natalie Wood as Gypsy.

Another production of "Gypsy" opened in 1974 with Angela Lans- bury as Mama Rose, and a revival on Broadway in 1989 starred Tyne Daley.

Bette Midler was Mama Rose in a 1993 TV movie.

Locally, Anne Arundel Community College's Moonlight Troupers staged "Gypsy" in November.

Joining Sherry Kay Anderson in the music hall cast are Mandy Lamb as the grown-up Louise, and Katy Smith as the older June.

Charlie Rogers plays Rose's long-suffering suitor Herbie, and song-and-dance man Joe Rose plays hoofer Tulsa.

The trio of strippers who show young Gypsy how it's done are Mary Armour-Kaiser as Tessie Tura, Andrea Elward as Elecktra and Jessica Hyman as Mazzepa - the latter having impressed in the same role in the community college production.

A number of youngsters will be seen among the troupe of young vaudevillians, including Randee Benedetti, Meghan Elward-Duffy, Katy Leuschner, Linsey Martin, Laura Martin, Katherine Riddle, Jenna Voorhees, Nicole Anderson Yetter and Zachary Anderson Yetter.

"Gypsy" runs through April 22, with evening performances every Friday and Saturday, and on selected Thursday evenings; and matinees every Sunday and Wednesdays through this month and April 11 and 18.

Chesapeake Music Hall is on Busch's Frontage Road, along U.S. 50 in Annapolis.

Tickets are $32.50 Friday and Saturday evenings and $29.50 for all other performances.

For reservations, call 410- 626-7515 or 800-406-0306.

For additional information, visit the theater's Web site at www.chesapeakemusichall.com.

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