Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby
To mark their 90th year, Flint Community Players opened this landmark season Thursday with a production of the now vintage musical Gypsy. A 1959 musical with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by Arthur Laurents, the plot is loosely based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist.
Starting in the 1920s, it’s a challenging script with lots of scenes, a large cast, a ton of costume changes and a host of chorus and solo numbers. At the heart of it all is Rose (Lindsay Tatum), the quintessential stage mother, and her two daughters, Baby June (Georgia Brewer) and Baby Louise (Brooklyn Olsey) who she is determined to mold into musical stars.
Time goes by even though the act never changes. This naturally causes strife and discord as June (Amber Wolcott) and Louise (Marie Burchi) plead with Rose to get married and settle down in one place. Herbie (William Adamo) is willing to do just that but Rose, striving to achieve stardom for herself through her girls, will never give in.
Director Nora-Lee Luttrell’s staging is tight. Most of the stage area is open with scenes played out in small quarters upstage. The open areas do work for the chorus numbers and also give the on/off stage musicians room to play. However, these upstage areas seem to cramp the action especially when more than one or two people are involved.
We must give credit to whoever saved the day Thursday when the Murphy bed refused to stay up and out of the way. Unfortunately we were other-directed by that technical issue throughout most of Burchi’s lovely “Little Lamb”.
The musical score for this show is terrific, but there were some problems in delivery here. Of course Rose carries the bulk of the vocals singing the powerful “Some People”, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”, and the emotional finale “Rose’s Turn”. Tatum brought an impressive presence to the stage, but her vocal power wasn’t strong Thursday.
Nevertheless, a few highlights need mentioning. “If Momma Was Married” was adorable as performed by Burchi and Wolcott, and “Together Wherever We Go” sung by Tatum, Adamo and Burchi was an Act 2 highlight.
If there was a potential showstopper, it was three strippers, Mazeppa (Karla Froehlich), Electra (Rebecca Pauli) and Tessie (Alison Boggs) with their hysterical and well-done version of “You Gotta Get A Gimmick”.
Directing music and choreography, Dan Gerics handled the cute kiddie routines with the ever-maturing newsboys well, and Austin Foster’s footwork with “All I Need Is The Girl” was nicely done.
We must admit that the transformation by Burchi’s Louise from a tomboy to Gypsy Rose Lee is splendid. Overall, this show has that same potential to blossom and become better each time it is performed. We hope you see it and join in the celebration of FCP’s amazing anniversary.
Gypsy continues at the Flint Community Players, 2462 S. Ballenger Hwy, Flint, 48507 through September 23. For tickets and more information contact the box office at 810-441-9302 or online at www.flintcommunityplayers.com