Gypsy

“Gypsy” Starred Ethel Merman 1959

Gypsy is a musical with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents. Gypsy is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist, and focuses on her mother, Rose, whose name has become synonymous with the ultimate show business mother. It follows the dreams and efforts of Rose to raise two daughters to perform onstage and casts an affectionate eye on the hardships of show business life. The character of Louise is based on Lee, and the character of June is based on Lee’s sister, the actress June Havoc.

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Run

Broadway Theatre, May 21, 1959 – Jul 09, 1960

Imperial Theatre, Aug 15, 1960 – Mar 25, 1961

Total Performances 702

Cast

Ethel Merman – Rose

Sandra Church – Louise

Jack Klugman – Herbie

Lane Bradbury – June

Paul Wallace – Tulsa

Creative

Music by Jule Styne

Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Book by Arthur Laurents

Based on the Memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee

Directed by Jerome Robbins

Choreographed by Jerome Robbins

Produced by David Merrick

Background


 

A musical based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee was a project of producer David Merrick and actress Ethel Merman. Merrick had read a chapter of Lee’s memoirs in Harper’s Magazine and approached Lee to obtain the rights. Jerome Robbins was interested, and wanted Leland Hayward as co-producer; Merman also wanted Hayward to produce her next show. Merrick and Hayward approached Arthur Laurents to write the book. As he relates, Laurents initially was not interested until he saw that the story was one of parents living their children’s lives. Composers Irving Berlin and Cole Porter declined the project. Finally, Robbins asked Stephen Sondheim, who agreed to do it. Sondheim had worked with Robbins and Laurents on the musical West Side Story. However, Merman did not want an unknown composer, and wanted Jule Styne to write the music. Although Sondheim initially refused to write only the lyrics, he was persuaded by Oscar Hammerstein to accept the job. The creative team was in place.

In analyzing the character of Rose, Clive Barnes described her as bossy, demanding, horrific . Rich described Rose as a monster. Critic Walter Kerr commented that though Rose is a monster, she must be liked and understood. Patti LuPone describes Rose: She has tunnel vision, she’s driven, and she loves her kids. And she is a survivor. I do not see her as a monster at all  she may do monstrous things, but that does not make a monster. Sondheim has said of the character: The fact that she’s monstrous to her daughters and the world is secondary. She’s a very American character, a gallant figure and a life force. Sondheim also noted, Yet the end of Gypsy is not entirely bleak. Louise comes out a star and forgives her mother. There is hope for her. Rose does confront who she is in Rose’s Turn. There is a catharsis. It’s not Rodgers and Hammerstein, but you feel maybe the mother and daughter will come to an understanding and maybe triumph over Rose’s craziness and Louise’s bitterness.

 


 

 

Everything’s Coming Up Roses – Ethel Merman Tony’s 1972


Music

Act I

Overture Orchestra
May We Entertain You? Baby June and Baby Louise
Some People Rose
Some People (Reprise)  Rose
Small World Rose and Herbie
Baby June and Her Newsboys Baby June and Newsboys
Mr. Goldstone, I Love You Rose, Herbie, Ensemble
Little Lamb Louise
You’ll Never Get Away From Me Rose and Herbie
Dainty June and Her Farmboys June and Farmboys
Broadway June and Farmboys
If Momma Was Married June and Louise
All I Need is the Girl Tulsa and Louise
Everything’s Coming up Roses Rose

Act II

Entr’acte Orchestra
Madame Rose’s Toreadorables Louise, Rose and the Hollywood Blondes
Together, Wherever We Go Rose, Herbie, and Louise
You Gotta Get a Gimmick Mazeppa, Electra, and Tessie Tura
Small World(Reprise) Rose
Let Me Entertain You Louise
Rose’s Turn Rose

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Ethel Merman

January 16, 1908 February 15, 1984) was a much loved American actress and singer. Known primarily for her belting voice and roles in musical theatre, she has been called “the undisputed First Lady of the musical comedy stage.” Among the many standards introduced by Merman in Broadway musicals are “I Got Rhythm”, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”, “Some People”, “Rose’s Turn”, “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “It’s De-Lovely”, “Friendship”, “You’re the Top”, “Anything Goes”, and “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, which later became her theme song.

Ethel Merman theatre Performances include Girl Crazy (1930), George White’s Scandals of 1931 (1931) Take a Chance (1932) Anything Goes (1934) Red, Hot and Blue (1936), Stars in Your Eyes (1939), Dubarry was a Lady (1939), Panama Hattie (1940) Somrthing for the Boys (1943) Sadie Thompson (1944) (replaced by June Havoc before previews) Annie Get Your Gun (1946) Call Me Madam (1950), Happy Hunting (1956), Gypsy (1959), Annie Get Your Gun (1966), Call Me Madam (1968) Hello Dolly! (1970), Mary Martin & Ethel Merman: Together On Broadway (1977). More at TheatreGold DataBase Here.

 

 

Hollywood Palace Fred Astaire Ethel Merman 1966 ‘Some People’


Stephen Sondheim

born March 22, 1930 is an American composer and lyricist known for his immense contributions to musical theatre for over 50 years. He is the winner of an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer) including the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award. Described by Frank Rich of the New York Times as now the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theater”, his most famous works include (as composer and lyricist) A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods. He also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy.

Sondheim’s big break came when he wrote the lyrics to West Side Story, lyricizing Leonard Bernstein’s music and Arthur Laurents’s book. When he was 25, Sondheim was introduced to Bernstein, who had heard Saturday Night and quickly hired him to write the lyrics to West Side Story. The 1957 show, directed by Jerome Robbins, ran for 732 performances. While this may be one of the best-known shows Sondheim ever worked on, he has expressed dissatisfaction with his lyrics, stating they do not always fit the characters and are sometimes too consciously poetic. It has been rumoured that while Bernstein was off trying to fix the musical Candide, Sondheim wrote some of the music for West Side Story, and that Bernstein’s co-lyricist billing credit mysteriously disappeared from the credits of West Side Story during the tryout, presumably as a trade-off. Sondheim himself insisted that Bernstein told the producers to list Sondheim as the sole lyricist.

In 1959, he wrote the lyrics for the musical Gypsy. Sondheim would have liked to write the music as well, but Ethel Merman, the star, insisted on a composer with a track record. Thus, Jule Styne was hired. Sondheim questioned if he should write only the lyrics for another show, but Hammerstein told him writing for a star would be valuable experience. Sondheim worked closely with book writer Arthur Laurents to create the show. It ran 702 performances. More at TheatreGold DataBase Here

 


 

Jule Styne

b. December 31, 1905  September 20, 1994 was an English-born American songwriter especially famous for a series of Broadway musicals, which include several very well known and frequently revived shows. Among his most enduring songs is Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!, cowritten with Sammy Cahn in 1945. In 1947, Styne wrote his first score for a Broadway musical, High Button Shoes with Cahn, and over the next several decades wrote the scores for many Broadway shows, most notably Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Peter Pan (additional music), Bells Are Ringing, Gypsy, Do Re Mi, Funny Girl, Sugar (with a story based on the movie Some Like It Hot, but all new music), and the Tony-winning Hallelujah, Baby!. More At TheatreGold DataBase Here.

 


 

Jerome Robbins

b. October 11, 1918  July 29, 1998, was an American theatre producer, director, and dance choreographer known primarily for Broadway Theater and Ballet/Dance, but who also occasionally directed films and directed/produced for television. His work ranged from classical ballet to contemporary musical theater. Among the numerous stage productions he worked on were On the Town, Peter Pan, High Button Shoes, The King And I, The Pajama Game, Bells Are Ringing, West Side Story, Gypsy: A Musical Fable, and Fiddler on the Roof. Robbins was a five time Tony Award winner and a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. He received two Academy Awards, including the 1961 Academy Award for Best Director with Robert Wise for West Side Story. A documentary about his life and work, Something to Dance About, featuring excerpts from his journals, archival performance and rehearsal footage, and interviews with Robbins and his colleagues, premiered on PBS in 2009. More at TheatreGold DataBase


 

David Merrick

b. (November 27, 1911  April 25, 2000) was a prolific Tony Award-winning American theatrical producer. In 2001 Merrick was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Born David Lee Margulois to Jewish parents in St. Louis, Missouri, Merrick graduated from Washington University, then studied law at the Jesuit-run Saint Louis University School of Law. In 1940 he left his legal career to become a successful theatrical producer. He often was his own competition for the Tony Award, and he frequently won multiple nominations and/or wins in the same season. Merrick was known for his love of publicity stunts. In 1949, his comedy Clutterbuck was running out of steam, but along with discount tickets, he paged hotel bars and restaurants around Manhattan during cocktail hour for a “fictive Mr. Clutterbuck as a way of generating name recognition for his production, and it helped his show keep alive for another few months. More at TheatreGold DataBase Here

 


 

Full Cast 1959

 

 

Ethel Merman Rose
Sandra Church Louise
Jack Klugman Herbie
Kathryn Albertson Showgirl
Marvin Arnold Farm Boy
John Borden Arnold (and his guitar)
Lane Bradbury June
Bobby Brownell Newsboy
Patsy Bruder Marjorie May
Gene Castle Newsboy
Ricky Coll Farm Boy
Marilyn Cooper Agnes
Steve Curry Newsboy
Faith Dane Mazeppa
Imelda De Martin Gail
Marilyn D’Honau Dolores
Don Emmons Farm Boy
Chotzi Foley Electra
Erving Harmon Pop
Billy Harris Newsboy
Maria Karnilova Tessie Tura
Gloria Kristy Showgirl
Jody Lane Balloon Girl
Merle Letowt Thelma
Loney Lewis Kringelein
Cigar
Barbara London Showgirl
Mort Marshall Uncle Jocko
Mr. Goldstone
Jacqueline Mayro Baby June
Denise McLaglen Showgirl
Karen Moore Baby Louise
Peg Murray Miss Cratchitt
Theda Nelson Showgirl
Michael Parks L.A.
Farm Boy
Joan Petlack Edna Mae
Richard Porter Pastey
Marsha Rivers Maid
Joe Silver Weber
Phil
Willy Sumner George
Cow
Carroll Jo Towers Showgirl
Ian Tucker Angie
Farm Boy
Marie Wallace Showgirl
Paul Wallace Tulsa
Farm Boy
David Winters Yonkers
Farm Boy
George Zima Bougeron-Cochon
Cow

 

 


Newspaper Ad 1959

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Memorabilia at TheatreGold.com for Gypsy HERE

 


 

 

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