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Gypsy, whats the big fuss?


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#1 Marius

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 07:39 PM

Ok ive just watched Gypsy starring Bette Midler, this is my first introduction to this musical having barely known anything about it until now. Everyone seems so excited by the prospect of a West End revival I thought i better see what the fuss is about.

Did I miss something? Its enjoyable, but I couldnt quite see what gets everyone so passionate.  The story moves along at break neck speed, which sometimes doesnt help the development, some things seem to be rushed and happen too quickly. For example Mama rose and Herbie get together so quickly, Gypsy rose Leighs transformation to stripper happens in blink of an eye, everything just felt rushed - maybe its the movie not the musical itself.  

The music, I didnt find especially memorable and bit old fashioned which I guess is to be expected, or are there songs cut from the movie? yes there ar eone or two well known classics in there, but otherwise it didnt grab me. The story itself only got interesting and involving once they got to the Burlesque house.  As its about a pushy stage mother I think in this day and age people could relate to it.

As for modern day casting, well I think Anne Hathaway would be an interesting choice to play the daughter, and as for Mama rose, Patti Lupone I dont know well enough as a perfromer to say if she could do it or not, but Elaine Paige is way too old now. And is the role really that demanding?

I dont mean to sound as negative as im being, I did enjoy it and would see it on stage, but I just couldnt see what everyone gets excited about.

Id love to hear others opinions, is it better on stage? am I alone in my views? did I miss something!?

#2 josh

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 07:47 PM

I haven't seen the movie but I don't think it's very well regarded as a good document of the stage show!

The score is just absolutely superb and if it has the right kind of performer in the title role it is absolutely electrifying. Patti LuPone is exactly the right kind of performer for it and I will die of excitement if she does it in London.

I think you have to listen to the music a bunch of times before you really realise its greatness - like a good Sondheim - but I think calling it 'old fashioned' is a bit silly! It sounds like it was written at the time when it was written, and it's regarded as one of the greatest of all musical scores!
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#3 JIJane

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 09:31 PM

I think Gypsy needs to be seen on stage and score sung by Merman to be fully appreciated. The score is one of the best ever written. And Mama Rose is a HUGELY demanding role. Acting wise there is a massive journey, drama comedy, romance, the full works. Everything's coming up roses sung the way Merman did it?? I don't think there is anyone alive who could do it like her. I still remain with my opinion that Lorna Luft would now be the best choice. Check out her clip on you tube doing a song called Take it all off at a concert...hilarious and she shows a lot of Mama Rose qualities, not just vocally. Yes, Anne Hathaway would be good as Gypsy. But it would be even better to see a complete unknown and get away from typical Hollywood casting.

#4 Tintin

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 10:05 PM

Ethel Merman, for whom the score was written, was probably the most suitable Mama Rose, with that extraordinary shattering voice and dynamic personality. But Angela Lansbury was excellent and I heard that Dolores Gray was marvellous.

I think the score is one of the best ever written for Broadway, but no movie version has come anywhere near to doing it justice. The first one, with Rosalind Russell, had one of the best songs, Together, cut out of it, and Russell's musical numbers were dubbed by Lisa Kirk, a great performer, but totally unsuitable for this character. Both films suffered from being stage bound, and maybe that is where Gypsy really belongs - on the stage. Perhaps no film version would really work as well.

I am not sure that Elaine Paige would be too old. After all, Merman had been around a long time before she played Mama Rose, and the character has to age throughout the show anyway. But Mama Rose is really a terrifying monster of a stage mother and I wonder if Paige is up to it, even thought she is a fine singer.

Incidentally, the autobiography by Gypsy Rose Lee is one of the funniest and most fascinating books about the theatre I have ever read.

#5 canmark

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 10:12 PM

For one, that Bette Midler Gypsy was strangely disappointing. Not bad, but not great. But I think Gypsy is a show that needs to be seen on stage. That said, I've never seen it on stage myself, but am hoping to go to NYC in July and catch Ms. Patti herself. (The Lorna Luft suggestion above is a good one. Just listen to her on the 1990 studio recording of Girl Crazy singing I Got Rhythm. Fab!)

That the musical is old-fashioned is what's so great about it. It harkens to the past (just as Sunset Blvd). It's also a tribute to vaudeville (You gotta get a gimmick) and old fashioned showmanship (Let Me Entertain You, All I need is the girl). It's got schmaltzy songs (Together, You'll never get away from me), clever lyrics (Mr. Goldstone), classics (Everything's coming up roses), and the incredibly emotional Rose's Turn which famously ends with "for meeeee!"

I think there are echos of that famous "for me!" in Hairspray--some song by Edna, I recall--and in Lucy the Slut's song in Avenue Q... they seem to be allusions, tributes, really. And "sing out, Louise!" is a famous line, sure to be shouted out at karaoke night at any gay bar.

The women who have played Mama Rose (nobody cares who played Gypsy Rose Lee) are always powerful women, divas of a certain age, with commanding stage presence. Merman, Russell (movie version) Landsbury, Daly, Midler (tv movie), Peters.

It's a show about a stage mother. About families. About show business itself. Jule Styne's wonderful music. Stephen Sondheim's clever lyrics. Let me entertain you, indeed!

#6 Tulip

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 11:12 PM

QUOTE(Marius @ Apr 13 2007, 08:39 PM) View Post
Ok ive just watched Gypsy starring Bette Midler, this is my first introduction to this musical having barely known anything about it until now. Everyone seems so excited by the prospect of a West End revival I thought i better see what the fuss is about.

Did I miss something? Its enjoyable, but I couldnt quite see what gets everyone so passionate.  The story moves along at break neck speed, which sometimes doesnt help the development, some things seem to be rushed and happen too quickly. For example Mama rose and Herbie get together so quickly, Gypsy rose Leighs transformation to stripper happens in blink of an eye, everything just felt rushed - maybe its the movie not the musical itself.  

The music, I didnt find especially memorable and bit old fashioned which I guess is to be expected, or are there songs cut from the movie? yes there ar eone or two well known classics in there, but otherwise it didnt grab me. The story itself only got interesting and involving once they got to the Burlesque house.  As its about a pushy stage mother I think in this day and age people could relate to it.

As for modern day casting, well I think Anne Hathaway would be an interesting choice to play the daughter, and as for Mama rose, Patti Lupone I dont know well enough as a perfromer to say if she could do it or not, but Elaine Paige is way too old now. And is the role really that demanding?

I dont mean to sound as negative as im being, I did enjoy it and would see it on stage, but I just couldnt see what everyone gets excited about.

Id love to hear others opinions, is it better on stage? am I alone in my views? did I miss something!?


What are you for real? But let me this right, you are the guy who doesn't understand act 2 of SITPWG ?

Gypsy. It's one of the greatest shows ever written.

I think Gypsy is very much about the stage so maybe a film ain't the best medium for it to come across BUT still!!!

Didn't you notice the amazing score and lyrics. The tight plotting of the book ???

Maybe the  drama happens quickly because the piece has a lot to cover and with such good writing, the quick action of scenes can happen. We don't need to see Gypsy’s slow decent into stripping because it's taken place over the last two hours but in different scenes/forms ... We don't need to see her pondering because we have seen desperation in previous scenes

Also with Herby, we saw what Rose did to her own father and how she behaves in the auditions so again we don’t need to see her exact calculation because we know she is that kind of person

#7 emkay

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 05:52 AM

I love Gypsy, and really enjoyed the Midler version.  I don't think they cut much, if any, out of the play for this adaptation.  I think it's one of the best scores ever written for the stage, as others have said.  I think it does have more energy onstage, but I think almost everything has more energy onstage.  The show has it all--good roles, a compelling story that has elements of comedy and tragedy, and those wonderful songs.  

It's funny, but the first time I really fell in love with the score for this show was when I saw a fairly bad amateur production of it when I was a teenager.  Even with the bad acting and slow staging of that production, the songs just shone through.  Later, I heard more versions and saw the Midler film, and I loved it even more.


#8 M George

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 07:48 AM

I'm not keen on the Bette Midler film - for a start I don't think she's particularly good in it.  Howeverm it is a great score and wel worthy of being revived.
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