The North Carolina Theatre will kick off its eagerly anticipated 2017-18 season with Gypsy: A Musical Fable, which NCT’s preshow publicity dubs “The Mother of All Musicals,” on Nov. 14-19 in Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in the heart of downtown Raleigh, NC. New York City director and Benson, NC favorite son Eric Woodall will direct NCT’s latest home-grown Broadway revival, which will star two New York City actresses: Chicago, IL-born mezzo soprano Christine Sherrill as Wahpeton, ND-born Rose Evangeline Hovick (1890-1954) — the mother of all stage mothers — and Fayetteville, NC native and University of North Carolina School of the Arts graduate Mary Mattison as former child star-now-grown-up burlesque entertainer, striptease artist, and author Gypsy Rose Lee (1911-70), nee Rose Louise Hovick in Seattle, WA.
Gypsy made its Broadway debut, directed and choreographed by the legendary Jerome Robbins, on May 21, 1959 at the Broadway Theatre and later transferred to the Imperial Theatre. It was nominated for eight 1960 Tony Awards®, including Best Musical and Best Actress in a Musical (Ethel Merman as Mama Rose); and it racked up a combined total of 702 performances before closing on March 25, 1961.
This classic musical features music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents, based on Gypsy Rose Lee’s 1957 autobiography, Gypsy: A Memoir. Gypsy introduced “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Together (Wherever We Go),” “You Gotta Get a Gimmick,” “Let Me Entertain You,” and “Rose’s Turn.” to the show-tune repertoire.
NCT guest director Eric Woodall is delighted to be directing what he calls “one of the most celebrated American musicals of all-time.” Woodall, who previously directed NCT productions of Steel Magnolias with Beth Leavel in 2012, Driving Miss Daisy with Sandy Duncan and Kevyn Morrow in 2014, Billy Elliot with Raleigh’s own Ira David Wood III in 2015, Mary Poppins in 2016, and Jesus Christ Superstar in 2017, adds, “I have been a fan of this show since I was a drama student at Carnegie Mellon University. I have seen many of the greats play Mama Rose: Tyne Daly, Linda Lavin, Bernadette Peters, and Patti LuPone. Though I didn’t see Ethel Merman [in the original 1959 Broadway production] or Angela Lansbury [in the 1974 Broadway revival], I have studied their performances closely through the years, as well.”
Woodall says, “Gypsy broke ground in numerous ways, pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in musical theater. Gypsy is a really big show, which is one of the reasons it doesn’t get produced as often as some of the other great ones. NCT wanted to do it, and do it right!”
In addition to Christine Sherrill as ultra-aggressive stage mother Rose and Mary Mattison as the initially shy Louise, this NCT production stars Martin Moran as Herbie, the former agent whom Rose persuades to manage the vaudeville act of her preteen daughters Baby Louise and Baby June (played by North Carolina Conservatory students Ellen Mackenzie Pierce and Skyla l’Lece Woodard, respectively); Tanisha Moore as grown-up Baby June, June Havoc (1912-2010), nee Ellen June Hovick in Vancouver, BC; Sidney DuPont as the dancer Tulsa; NCT favorite and East Carolina University faculty member Dirk Lumbard as vaudeville master of ceremonies Uncle Jocko, as well as Cigar and Phil; J. Elaine Marcos, Amma Osei, NCT favorite Lynda Clark as burlesque performers/strippers Tessie Tura, Mazeppa, and Electra; NCT favorite David F. Bartlett as Rose’s father Pop, as well as Mr. Goldstone and Pastey; and Christopher Neill Bailey, Sr. as Jocko’s assistant Georgie, as well as Weber and a Stagehand. Lynda Clark also plays imperious Grantziger’s Palace secretary Miss Cratchitt.
“I was lucky enough to have [NCT] trust me with it,” says Tara Rubin Casting casting director Eric Woodall. “It has been amazing to direct a show with over 30 cast members, an orchestra of 23, gigantic set pieces, over 100 costumes, live animals, and children! I have been planning and preparing for this production for over a year and a half.”
Woodall declares, “Gypsy is a valentine to show business and the theater. Since I have made a life in the theater, I am certainly drawn to stories that are inspired by what it ‘takes’ to succeed. However, on a deeper level, Gypsy is about the complexities of relationships when a drive for career overshadows everything else.
“Almost everyone can relate to that on some level,” says Woodall. “North Carolina audiences are going to love these iconic characters and songs, delivered by an amazing cast comprised of Broadway stars and Raleigh’s finest.”
Director Eric Woodall, who is resident director of the Broadway, Las Vegas, Touring, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines companies of Mamma Mia!, says, “My goal is to highlight the contemporary, universal ideas of this timeless musical, while celebrating the lavish musical numbers and compelling scenes. Choreographer Michael Mindlin, music director Laura Bergquist, and I are pushing the company to respect the script and score as written, while encouraging them to breathe new life into it. We are crafting a diverse, creative production that feels current and modern — but happens to be set in another time.”
In addition to director Eric Woodall, choreographer Michael Mindlin, and musical director Laura Bergquist, the North Carolina Theatre creative team for Gypsy includes NCT producer Carolee Baxter; NCT artistic director Casey Hushion; assistant director Alex Tobey; technical director Bill Yates, Jr.; lighting designer Samuel Rushen; costumer LeGrande Smith; properties manager Aline Johnson; sound designers Eric Alexander Collins and Brian L. Hunt; and stage manager Daniel Everett. The show features sets originally designed by Michael Anania for Pittsburgh CLO and costumes originally designed by Thomas G. Marquez for Music Theatre Wichita.
Director Eric Woodall says, “We have made a few alterations [in the set] to make it feel tailor-made for our particular production. There are some very large, beautiful set pieces which nicely balance some of the more dramatic backstage scenes that highlight the physical theater itself.”
He adds, “Our lighting designer, Samuel Rushen, will be giving visual nods to vaudeville and burlesque in the 1920s and 1930s. We are using footlights and chasers. We are also adding some large rolling lights for dramatic flair.”
Woodall says LeGrande Smith will coordinate the costumes were designed by Thomas G. Marquez. “These clothes are gorgeous,” claims Woodall.
“Audiences will be thrilled to revisit of discover this timeless, funny, and moving masterpiece,” claims director Eric Woodall. “Don’t miss it.”
SECOND OPINION: Nov. 8th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh BWW TV interview with actor Sidney DuPont, conducted by Jeffrey Kare: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-TV-Sidney-DuPont-of-North-Carolina-Theatres-GYPSY-20171108; Nov. 7th Raleigh, NC Spectrum News Central NC interview with actors Christine Sherrill and Martin Moran, conducted by Caroline Blair: http://spectrumlocalnews.com/nc/triangle-sandhills/in-depth-interview/2017/11/07/in-depth–nc-theatre-performs–gypsy–; and Oct. 29th Raleigh, NC News & Observer mini-preview by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article181571926.html.
The North Carolina Theatre presents GYPSY: A MUSICAL FABLE, starring Christine Sherrill as Rose and Mary Mattison as Louise, at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14-17 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $25.15-$92.15, except $25 college-student tickets.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or https://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/741024.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 6949; email@example.com; or http://nctheatre.com/groups.
SHOW: https://nctheatre.com/shows/gypsy, https://www.facebook.com/events/506885026321055/, and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/gypsy-7900.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYvaYVYTZJ8.
2017-18 SEASON: https://nctheatre.com/show-season/201718-season.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18th, performance.
Gypsy: A Memoir (1957 autobiography): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gypsy:_A_Memoir (Wikipedia).
The Autobiography: https://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Gypsy Rose Lee (Seattle, WA-born burlesque entertainer and striptease artist, nee Rose Louise Hovick, 1911-70): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/gypsy-rose-lee-5987 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0497346/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gypsy_Rose_Lee (Wikipedia).
Gypsy: A Musical Fable (1959 Broadway and 1973 West End musical): http://www.tamswitmark.com/shows/gypsy/ ( Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc.), http://www.julestyne.com/Broadway/Gypsy.php (Jule Styne web page), http://www.sondheim.com/works/gypsy/ (Stephen Sondheim web page), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/gypsy-4135 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gypsy_(musical) (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: http://www.campbroadway.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Gypsy-6-16-08.pdf (Camp Broadway, LLC).
Jule Styne (music): http://www.julestyne.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/jule-styne-12466 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jule_Styne (Wikipedia).
Stephen Sondheim (lyrics): http://www.sondheim.com/ (official website), https://www.britannica.com/biography/Stephen-Sondheim (Encyclopædia Britannica), http://sondheim.org/ (Stephen Sondheim Society), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/stephen-sondheim-12430 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Sondheim (Wikipedia).
Arthur Laurents (book): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/arthur-laurents-4307 (Internet Broadway Database) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Laurents (Wikipedia).
Eric Woodall (New York City director): http://www.ericwoodall.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/eric-woodall-90124 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0940106/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/eric.woodall.98 (Facebook page).
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail email@example.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)