There must be something hard coded in a mothers DNA that makes her want to see her child become a star. Just turn on the TV and try to avoid being bombarded with the antics of Dina Lohan, Joe Jackson, or those over-the-top stage moms of “Toddlers and Tiaras”. Often accused of living out their dreams through their children, stage mothers continue to fascinate and baffle audiences to this day.
Baby June played by Jennifer Andrews
Perhaps the most definitive and well-known story of this phenomenon is that of Rose Thompson Hovick, the mother of the most famous burlesque performer of all time, Gypsy Rose Lee. The musical “Gypsy: A Musical Fable”, based on Rose and her daughters life in show business has been hailed as “one of the best of all American musicals”. With popular songs such as “Small World”, “Everythings Coming up Roses”, “Some People”, “Let Me Entertain You”, “All I Need Is the Girl”, and “Roses Turn”, the show deftly chronicles the obsession with stardom and the emotional damage that can come about as a result.
What makes this musical so great is that, rather than sink into a depressing morality tale, the story lifts us with brilliant songs by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim, and portrayals of three strong women who make the best they can out of the cards they are dealt. Its not the easiest play to produce, but Director Barbara Doudt and the cast and crew at Rockwall Summer Musicals were more than up to the task. With numerous scene changes, massive sets to be moved and complex choreography and lighting, unique challenges often came up and were overcome through intense dedication of cast and crew to presenting the best possible performance.
Patty Granville, Director of the Garland Center for the Performing Arts, does the heavy lifting as Mama Rose, whose drive to make her girls famous brings with it great personal cost. June, the main object of Roses obsession, is played with endless athletic energy by Molly Dobbs.
Rachael Bower, who starred as Maria in last years RSM production of “Sound of Music”, turns in another amazing performance as Louise, the lesser talented of two siblings who ultimately achieves her own brand of greatness.
And now for the elephant in the room. Anyone who has ever heard the name Gypsy Rose Lee probably knows she made her living by taking her clothes off on stage. Parents who may be concerned about this can rest assured that their kiddos will see more skin at the Harry Myers pool than they will here. The burlesque scenes dont occur until well into the second act, and are presented with taste and humor. The scene where veteran performers Mazeppa, Electra and Tessie Tura show young Louise how “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” is more hilarious than titillating.
Once again, Rockwall Summer Musicals puts forth a surprisingly professional musical performance. There are still three more chances to see this amazing production: Tonight and Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sunday at 2:30 PM, at the Utley Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets can be purchased online at rockwallsummermusicals.org or at the door.
See more photos and information on RSM Facebook page.
Bob Lewis |