Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Gypsy"

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note: entire contents copyright 2005 by Carl A. Rossi


"GYPSY"

book by Arthur Laurents
music by Jule Styne
lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
directed by Nathan Fogg
choreography by Danie Wright
musical direction by Janice Issa-Wright

Baby Louise … Kayhla Ainslee
Father … Rolly Blanchette
Tulsa … Paul Brennan
Dolores; Maid … Nikki Calitri
Mamma Rose … Teresa Capachione
Herbie … Brian Chamberlain
Louise; Gypsy … Ellen Choquette
Baby June … Sara Comeau
Miss Electra … Jodi Comeau
Weber … Jim Gordon
Miss Cratchitt … Cindy Glinn
Toreodorable; Hollywood Blonde … Amy Hildreth
Yonkers … Brent Hildreth
Newsboy … Derek Jackson
Dainty June … Angela Johns
Miss Mazeppa … Anna C. Johnston
Burgeron-Cochon … Robert Jose
Farmboy … Tony Light
Girl Auditioning … Linda Mech
Newsboy … Matthew Mech
Stage Manager … Jim Olson
Thelma; Showgirl … Shannon Oriola
Newsboy … James E. O’Malley
Kringelein … Jim O’Malley
Ms. Agnes; Showgirl … Jocelyn Padilla
Farmboy … Mike Pappas
Newsboy … Nicholas Paradiso
Pastey … John Paul Potts
Miss Tessie Tura … Linda Succi
Cigar … George Sullivan
Edna; Show Girl … Erin Thomas
Uncle Jocko … Kevin Tocci
Angie … John Van der Maelen
Newsboy … James Vitale
Father … George White
Balloon Girl … Abbi Wirta

Orchestra:

Reeds … Arthur Bakopolus; Kevin Ritter; Brian Young; David Sass
Trumpet … Ron Christianson; Randy Quast; Mark Sanchez
Trombone … Seth Hamlin
Bass … Tony Sumbury
Percussion … Tim Maynard; Scott Purslow
Piano … Janice Issa-Wright

The classic American musical GYPSY, based on Gypsy Rose Lee’s memoirs about her growing up in vaudeville and becoming a ladylike stripper in burlesque, is so abundant in character, sweep and tunes that should a director, choreographer and cast fail to blend everything into a unified whole there should at least be a few golden moments, here and there, as is the case in the Massasoit Theatre Company’s current production. If you can tolerate sour sounds from the orchestra, two miscast Junes (Baby and Dainty), a likeable but bland Herbie who only catches fire in his final scene and an Act Two having more exposed pulchritude than is necessary, you will be compensated with a promising Tulsa preparing for future take-offs, a very funny trio for “You Gotta Have a Gimmick” and much of Teresa Capachione’s hell-bent performance as Mamma Rose, the ultimate stage mother.

Mamma Rose has to be the most challenging female role in American musical theatre, demanding a singing actress who can also deliver the razzmatazz. Rose may be Lear-like in her rages when her children turn against her but she is built more along the lines of Mr. Wagner’s Siegfried who is onstage for much of the evening, runs the gamut of human emotions (often at the top of his voice) and must still have plenty of juice left for the finale. Ms. Capachione tends to charge through the role (but always professionally) --- at best, she propels the production forward; at other times, she’s a fist in your side. Her singing is another matter: Ms. Capachione has the right kind of voice for Rose --- warm, with the necessary steel that enables her to sound as fresh at evening’s close as she does at the beginning. She may sound like one famous Rose and smile like another but “Rose’s Turn”, that hair-raising eleven o’clock solo, is all her own: left completely alone onstage for the first time, Ms. Capachione relaxes, expands and lets Mamma sock it to ya and the audience beholds a sexy, worldly woman who moves well and belts out Mr. Sondheim’s lyrics in rich, throaty tones; her near-breakdowns are sudden cracks in the granite. This is one of those moments when an audience impatiently waits to drown a performer in cheers and applause and on her very last note, held and stretched without tearing, Ms. Capachione was deluged by a standing ovation, myself included, with only minutes to go before curtain calls. If you’ve never seen “Rose’s Turn” performed live, this is a great place to start.

Nathan Fogg keeps a large ensemble moving as briskly as possible but has directed Ellen Choquette’s Louise/Gypsy to be downright vengeful in the mother-daughter showdown, nor is there is any shyness turning to amused sophistication as Louise learns her craft; Ms. Choquette’s strip-teasing is really strip-taunting, as hard and as in-your-face as many a MTV heroine and she should do more than clip up her hair for her transformation. Now, if Mr. Fogg could have Mss. Capachione and Choquette close the show by slowly disappearing arm in arm instead of stalking off together as if to catch a train…. Last December, Noh Theatre taught me that the slower the pace the more epic a piece of stage business becomes and this showbiz saga needs a similar summing up for the audience to pause, exhale and say, “Wow….” Since GYPSY offers deliberately tacky routines, Danie Wright’s step-kick-step-kick choreography squeaks by more often than not and you would be truly stone-hearted not to be touched at these eager, starry-eyed performers merging with their equally stage-struck characters (especially the children in the cast).

I have been told that Ms. Capachione is looking New York-ward so you should attend one of GYPSY’s remaining performances or pray that another local producer offers her a challenging role that will keep her in the area for awhile longer: if all Tulsa needs is a girl, all Ms. Capachione clearly needs is a chance.

"Gypsy" (4-13 March)
MASSASOIT THEATER COMPANY
Buckley Performing Arts Center, Massasoit Community College, BROCKTON, MA
1 (508) 427-1234

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide

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