Thu 1 May, 2003 01:02 pm
Gypsy opens tonight with Bernadette Peters as Mama Rose and direction by Sam Mendes. I'm pretty excited about it, and I'm not even going to see the show! My first thought when I heard about it was that Bernadette seems too young for the role. But she's 55! Who knew? (Well, I would have if I'd stopped to think about it.) She looks great, and lord knows, she can sing the hell out of it.
Shall we try to second-guess the critics? What do you think the response will be?
It will be interesting to see what the reviews will be like. Gypsy is such a beloved musical, and the bar has been set so high by some of its previous productions, that it may suffer (critically) by comparison with its predecessors. Also, with Sam Mendes directing, some critics may approach it with the attitude of, "What makes a young English hotshot think he has anything worthwhile to say about a classic American musical?"
On the other hand, I think a lot of people are rooting for Bernadette Peters to carry this off, and she is extremely talented (and probably more suitably cast as Mama Rose than she was in Annie Get Your Gun), so it could be a triumph for her. And I thought that Tammy Blanchard, who plays Louise, was very good as the young Judy Garland in the TV movie about Garland's life a couple of years ago (the one in which Judy Davis played the older Garland). If she turns in as good a performance in Gypsy, she could be at the beginning of a big career.
By the way, I haven't voted in the poll because the only Mama Roses I've seen were Tyne Daly and Bette Midler, and -- while they were both good -- I just don't feel like either one of them was the definitive Mama Rose (a title that will probably always belong to Ethel Merman).
Ros Russell is the one, just like she was the one in Auntie Mame! Who's doing June Havoc? Love the music...
When I hear Mama Rose in my ear, I hear Ethel Merman.
I've seen Bernadette Peters live a few times and really loved her energy. This could be a good match.
I read the review in the NYT and it looks really interesting. For one thing, there is Bernadette Peters' personal connection to the story -- quite amazing parellels (which I hadn't known before.) For another, I really like it when they take these old warhorses and rejigger them just a bit. The review suggests that BP can take the character to a different and more subtle place than Merman et al.
Wow, I wasn't aware that there were so many Mama Roses. The only one I've seen is Rosalind Russell in the movie, and I thought she was great in the role. I realize that a portion of Russell's singing was dubbed by Lisa Kirk, but her acting certainly compensated for that. As for Ethel Merman - after hearing her recording of Gypsy - I chose not to add it to my Broadway collection. I have Merman's recording of Annie Get Your Gun. The critics said that Annie was Merman's role - that Merman is Annie - and then Mary Martin came along. (I saw Martin when she toured in Annie Get Your Gun long before her TV production, and that was the most exciting performance I have ever seen.) I hope that the critics' judgment is based solely on Bernadette Peters' performance and not on comparisons with those who have preceded her. I think Peters' renditions of Sondheim are great, so maybe the fact that she'll be singing Sondheim lyrics will be in her favor. Let's hope so. But for now, I'll cast a vote for Rosalind Russell.
There's probably a line around the block at the Shubert Theater this morning, after the rave review Ben Brantley gave Gypsy
in the New York Times
New York Times review of Gypsy
The only other review I've read so far was Terry Teachout's review in the Wall Street Journal
(I can't post a link, because you have to pay to see the WSJ
online), which was very different from Brantley's: Teachout says Bernadette Peters is miscast and doesn't have a strong enough voice for the role. But since the only review that matters at the box office is the one in the Times
, the show is now guaranteed to be a hit no matter what anyone else says.
Wow! Thanks for the link, bree. That's the best review I've read in ages.
Hmmm, I wonder how long Bernadette Peters is supposed to be in the show? I wonder how much a plane ticket to NY is these days? Hmmm...
Frank Rich has an interesting piece in Sunday's New York Times called "Gypsy: Then, Now and Always". Here's a link:
Frank Rich on "Gypsy"
Saw Ethyl Merman in the final performance at the Biltmore Theater in L.A. No contest.