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Home | Maine State Music Theater Reviews | GYPSY Is Broadway At Its Best at MSMT

GYPSY Is Broadway At Its Best at MSMT

GYPSY Is Broadway At Its Best at MSMT

If you want to experience a classic Broadway musical theatre production, then Gypsy (debuted on Broadway in 1959) at Maine State Music Theatre (MSMT) is for you.  The show plays through August 3 and is followed by the last show of this 2013 blockbuster season, Mary Poppins. 

 Dominic Missimi, who directed Gypsy for the first time at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre three decades ago has traveled to MSMT to share with us his talent and inspiration.  At that first show in 1983 he says “It was a particularly memorable event because I was able to give an Equity card to a dynamo named Marc Robin (director of Dream Girls, Les Miserables and Mary Poppins this season), a household name at Maine State Music Theatre.”  I can see why Missimi was chosen to direct this show and the audience loved every minute of the flawless opening night performance.   

 In Gypsy Arthur Laurents book comes to life on stage with the music of Broadway composer Jule Styne behind the incredible lyrics of Stephen Sondheim.  Music is the biggest part of this show and I want to recognize the talented Musical Director, Aaron McAllister (Conductor/Keyboard 1) who is making his MSMT debut along with his multi-talented orchestra, Samuela Thorne Bagala (keyboard 2), Charlie Stancampiano (Reed 1), Ray Libby (Reed 2), Garrett Schmidt (Trumpet), Chris Oberholtzer (Trombone), Aaron Pettengill (Violin) and Andy Robbins (Percussion).  The balance between the orchestra and vocals is perfect and talent of this orchestra is not lost on the show at all.  We thoroughly enjoyed the music.  

 Gypsy is set in the 1920s, Mama Rose (Charis Leos) wants her young daughters Louise (Madeleine Blakemore - Baby Louise) and June (Julia Yameen - Baby June), to be stars. Uncle Jocko is rehearsing his Kiddie’s Show who is played by Chuck Ragsdale who is no stranger to MSMT and is a riot in this role.  Rose bullies him into hearing them perform “May We Entertain You”, but Jocko is not entertained and the family storms out of there and with little money, she pleads to Grandpa (Pop) played by Glenn Anderson who is always a delight on stage and stays in character so well to given them some money  so she can take the act to Los Angeles so the girls can be stars. Grandpa will not sell his gold plaque from the railroad company, but that is no problem to Rose. “Some People”, she sings, “Some people ain’t me!”. She grabs the plaque, the girls and Chowsie the dog and is off to L.A.

 Throughout this production Charis Leos is an indomitable force and commands the stage with her singing and acting ability like no other.  She truly becomes the domineering, egotistical, over-the-top stage mother that makes others who have been pegged with that title appear mild by comparison.  It is a joy to watch this professional actress and I can see why she is a MSMT regular having starred in Legally Blonde, 42nd Street, Les Miserables, Drowsy Chaperone, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Always, Patsy Cline, Chicago, Full Monty and other memorable shows in her eight seasons here.

 The MSMT debut of Julia Yameen (Baby June) and Madeleine Blakemore (Baby Louise) and is especially noteworthy.  These two actresses play off Leos like seasoned professionals and are a delight to watch.  I loved Yameen’s high pitched singing, which reminds me of Shirley Temple, and interaction with Leos who can always be seen in the wings mouthing the words and over coaching her young protege´.  Blakemore stays in character well and is clearly the overlooked child who does her best to go along with the show and take the back seat for her sister and mother’s dream of making them all stars.  The news boys, who are also making their MSMT 2013 season debut, are a talented ensemble who back up the sisters and are played by Jonah Daiute, Aidan Gallagher, Julian Ray and Alec Shiman and are a delight to watch.  I am sure we will see them again on stage in the future.  Also, the great character actor, Steve Calzaretta (Weber/Cigar), who is with MSMT for all four shows this season, plays several roles and is always entertaining to watch.        

 Herbie, played by David Girolmo agrees to be Rose’s agent, and they sing a friendly duet, ‘Small World”. Everyone sings the celebratory “Mr. Goldstone”, who is played by master of character changes, Chuck Ragsdale. Girolmo is great as always and I enjoyed his performance in Gypsy as much as his last performance in Les Miserables.  In a twist on the role (no pun intended) he walked with a cane due to a torn miniscus which happened just two days before the show opened and it looks like it is part of the act and he incorporates the handicap like the seasoned professional he is.  I really enjoyed the strobe light effect on stage when the young Louise and June transform into their older (20 something) characters.  Now the troupe reaches New York. Because of the depression times are hard. Herbie wants Rose to give up the act and marry him, but she will not and sings “You’ll never get away from me’’.

 They audition for Mr. Grantziger with the number “Broadway” and this is where the audience realizes that Mama Rose is truly out of control when he offers to make June (Cary Michele Miller) an actress on condition that Rose keeps away from her.  Miller does a good job with the role and is every bit as believable as Yameen (Baby June).  She is even more outrageous in her over acting with Mama Rose prodding her on with the boys Tulsa (Tyler Hanes), Yonkers (Michael Biren),  and Jimmy McDonald (L.A) seriously growing tired of the act.   Tulsa, one of Rose’s boys, is rehearsing a routine of his own; Louise (Missy Dowse) joins in, and they sing “All I Need Is A Girl”. Hanes and Dowse are great in this scene and here is just one of the examples of how Gypsy Choreographer, Raymond Marc Dumont shines.  The dancing and movement on stage was truly spectacular to watch and Hanes did a superb job singing and dancing.  At the end of the scene the audience gave a long applause acknowledging the talented actors.  

 After Mama Rose finds out the boys have left the act and June has gone off and married Tulsa she switches her ambitions to Louise in “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”.  Leos delivers a high energy performance of this act one finale and this leaves the audience wanting more. 

 The transformation of the shy and so-called untalented sister Louise into the famous Gypsy Rose Lee is great to watch.  Herbie, Rose and Louise keep their spirits up with “Together Wherever We Go”, The act is now Rose, Louise and Her Hollywood Blondes, and Herbie accidentally books them into a strip joint. Louise gets a lesson from the strippers in “You Gotta Get A Gimmick”.  Susan Cella (Tessie Tura), Abby C. Smith (Mazeppa) and Heidi Kettenring (Electra) are hysterical and grab ahold of the audience in this scene.  These women play well off each other and it was an absolute riot to watch these burlesque dancers sing and dance on stage.  It is at this point in the show that we see the Gypsy Rose Lee character emerge and Dowse has it all in this role.  In a quick series of scene changes we see her becoming the undisputed Queen of Strip.  Dowse has a great voice and is beautiful in her numerous costume changes.  

 Additionally there are performances by Michaela K. Boissonneault (Ensemble), Jericah Jo Potvin (Agnes), Mary Beth Donahoe (Renee), Michael Notardonato (Angie), Blake Stadnik (Ensemble), Joe Becherer (Ensemble) and Laurel Haitoff (Ensemble) and the girls youth ensemble members in Gypsy are Jacqueline Brochu, Jacquelyn Ellsworth and Molly Palese.  

 I was impressed by Kurt Alger and his MSMT staff for the fabulous fashions in this show and the quick costume changes.  The scenic design and set changes were well executed.  The lighting and sound were great and I would highly recommend you get a ticket to this show that can be enjoyed by all ages.  If you have a young person in your life who has never gone to a Broadway musical this would be a perfect show for them to see.  It is not boring, the music is classic and recognizable and the show has a lot of comedic moments.

 Reviewers do not often mention the behind the scenes staff whose names are in the playbills but never seem to get enough recognition for all they do.  How could Maine State Music Theatre continue to bring this type of Broadway musical theatre to Brunswick without Interim Executive Director, Stephanie Dupal and Artistic Consultant, Curt Dale Clark at the helm?  The fact that this is their first year in these roles is amazing.  I would like to the commend the MSMT Board of Directors, led by Don Gerrish, for choosing this duo to execute this important 2013 season.  I would also like to recognize the administrative staff members who work all year long for 

 

MSMT, Barbara Whidden (Director of Development), Kathi Kacinksi (Company Manager), Michael J. Tobin (Director of Marketing and Public Relations), Carol Hammond (Communications Director), and Susan Sharp (Audience Services Manager).  It is great see the MSMT family hard at work keeping Victoria Crandall’s dream alive that began in the year Gypsy debuted on Broadway in 1959.

 

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Photos by Audra Hatch Charis Leos ( (C) Cary Michele Miller ( (L-R) Carey Michele Miller ( (L-R) Charis Leos ( Photos by Audra Hatch Photos by Audra Hatch Photos by Audra Hatch Photos by Audra Hatch Photos by Audra Hatch Photos by Audra Hatch Photos by Audra Hatch  (L-R) Glenn Anderson (
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