Cut from the 2008 "Gypsy"

I was perusing the libretto of Gypsy last evening as I realized I haven’t read it in quite some time. Seeing the show onstage tends to give me an excuse not to. However, as I’ve said before, my one major qualm with the 2008-Patti LuPone Gypsy was the alterations made to the libretto. The following items were cut unless otherwise bracketed with the changes made. Some are inconsequential, but there are some moments, particularly the rather uproarious Kringelein scene and the “Small World” reprise that detract from the dimension of Rose.

Act One, Scene Two (“Home Sweet Home – Seattle”)
LOUISE: That’s dog food, Momma.
ROSE: That’s what she thinks. I’m hungry.
LOUISE: Then why didn’t you eat some of our chow mein after the show?
ROSE: Because you two did the work and we gotta save every cent.

Act One, Scene Six (“Happy Birthday – Akron”)
(A knocking on the door)
KRINGELEIN (Off): Madame Rose!
ROSE: I am not cooking in here, Mr. Kringelein. That cow –
KRINGELEIN (Knock): Open this door!
ROSE: I’m dressing. That cow –
KRINGELEIN (Knock): Madame Rose –
ROSE: I’ll call you when I’m finished. That dear fat cow looked me right in the eye and said: “Rose, if you want to get on the Orpheum Circuit, put me in your act.” Children, you know what I’m going to do?
YONKERS: You’re going to pay that crummy cow and not us!
ROSE: I ain’t paying anybody but I’m going to take that cow’s advice! I’m going to call the new act: Dainty June and her Farm Boys. I’m going to get more boys. I’m going to put that cow in the act –
(In the other room, KRINGELEIN – a pompous hotel manager – opens the door quietly, shuts it behind him and tiptoes to the doorway between the two rooms as:) and Chowsie and the monkey. And Louise’s present – if you don’t mind honey –
LOUISE: But Momma, I don’t even know what my present is!
KRINGELEIN (Haughtily): No cooking, Madame Rose?
ROSE: How dare you enter a lady’s boudoir without knocking?
KRINGELEIN (Advancing): Where’s your hot plate?
ROSE: Where’s your search warrant?
KRINGELEIN (Heading toward bathroom): In all the years I have been running a theatrical hotel –
ROSE (Opening corridor door): If you don’t leave, I’m going to scream!
(ONE OF THE BOYS darts to block the bathroom door)
KRINGELEIN (Pointing toward sign): You know the rules. No cooking. No electrical appliances. No – no pets other than small (Pushes kid out of the way) dogs or – (Opens the bathroom door. A little lamb in rubber drawers runs out between his legs and over to LOUISE)
ROSE: Happy birthday, darling!
ROSE: Profanity in front of my babies! June, get the Bible! Get the Bible!
(People in bathrobes and wrappers etc. begin to appear in the doorway, flowing into the room)
KRINGELEIN: You pack up this dirty menagerie and get out!
ROSE: You’ll have to throw me out, you rotten ANIMAL HATER! (To others) That’s what he is! Send for the SPCA!
KRINGELEIN: Send for the police! I rented these two rooms to one adult and three children! Now I see one adult! 5 pets and 1,2,3,4
ROSE: You counted him twice! (The KIDS are running in and out. SHE turns to the others) It’s a simple little birthday party for my baby –
ROSE: Chow mein. I’d offer you some but there’s only one egg roll –
KRINGELEIN: How many are sleeping in that room?
ROSE: What room?
KRINGELEIN (In doorway between two rooms): THIS room, Madame, THIS room!
ROSE (Pushing him in): There isn’t a soul in this room.
KRINGELEIN: Now you know what I –
ROSE (Closing door behind them): Except you and me. (She lets out a scream as she shoves him down onto the mattress on the floor) Mr. Kringelein, what are you trying to do?!! (Throws pillows and blankets on him) Mr. Kringelein! Stop! Help! Help! (She wrenches her robe open and staggers back into the other room where PEOPLE get a chair for her and ad lib as:) My babies! My babies! MONSTER! Thank you, Gladys. A little birthday party – chow mein – a tiny little cake –
(LOUISE, with her lamb, goes into other room during this. KRINGELEIN is getting out of the snarl of blankets and exits)
HERBIE’S VOICE (From hall): Rose! Rose! Are you all right? (He enters room and pushes his way to ROSE’s side) Rose! What’s happened? Are you ok, honey?
ROSE (Straightening herself): Sure! Where have you – (Then remembering) Herbie. Mr. Kringelein, the hotel manager, he – he tried to – to –
HERBIE (A cynical eye): Again?
(Straightens up and starts for other room)
ROSE: Well, I had to do something Herbie, don’t you dare apologize to him!

Act Two, Scene Two (“The Bottom – Wichita”)
TESSIE: You know, from the way that dame walks, she would have been a damn good stripper in her day.

[changed to:
TESSIE: She’s your mother?
LOUISE. Yes. She’s my mother.]

MAZEPPA (Belligerently): Something wrong with stripping?

[given to Electra]

Act Two, Scene Four
(PASTEY races out. ROSE touches the place where HERBIE kissed her, and then sings:)
Lucky, you’re a man who likes children
That’s and important sign.
Lucky, I’m a woman with children –
Funny, small and funny –
(ROSE gets up and slowly walks to the white gloves. She has them in her hand, and is glaring at them as LOUISE comes out and takes the gloves from her. ROSE watches her start to put them on, the speaks quietly, as though dazed…)

ROSE (Softly): You look beautiful!
TESSIE (Runs on with an old fur stole which she wraps around LOUISE): For luck, honey!
ROSE: Are you nervous?
LOUISE: …What?
ROSE: I said Are you nervous, Baby?
LOUISE: No, Mother.

Act Two, Scene Five (Louise’s Dressing Room)
ROSE: You won’t be ready when vaudeville comes back.
LOUISE: No, I’ll be dead. (Then, indicating the furs she has thrown on a chair) Renee, tell Sam he can lock up the animals for the night.

Act Two, Scene Six (Backstage)
ROSE (Tough with herself, too, she shakes her head) If I could’ve been, I would’ve been. And that’s show business… Listen. About that school – I could open one – for kids, like you said. Only – kids grow up. And twice is enough… I guess I did do it for me.
LOUISE: Why, Mother?
ROSE: Just wanted to be noticed.
LOUISE: Like I wanted you to notice me. (ROSE turns and looks at her) I still do, Momma.
(She holds out her arms to ROSE, who hesitates then comes running to her like a child. LOUISE pats her, kisses her hair as she says) It’s ok, Momma. It’s ok, Rose.
(ROSE clutches her, then moves away. Forces a smile as she turns back)

[They’ve streamlined this exchange, taking out “Listen. About that school…. And twice is enough” as well as dropping the line “I still do, Momma.”]

ROSE (Stops moving): Only it was you and me, wearing exactly the same gown. It was an ad for Minsky – and the headline said: (She traces the name in the air)
(Louise gives her a look; ROSE catches it, and moving her hand up to give LOUISE top billing, says:)
(They both begin to laugh as they walk off and – )

[The change here comes in the staging and characterization. As originally written there is a sense of understanding between the two of them and they walk off to the party together. In the revival, Rose is still in the midst of her delusions as she says this. Louise laughs, shakes her head and walks off in hysterics, leaving Rose onstage in her own world of hopelessness, maniacally reaching for the out of reach, broken down “ROSE” sign. The orchestration has been slightly altered for this sequence, with the piano now starting the final phrase of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” for the curtain.]

One Last "Turn"

Roxie and I are heading in to take in the final performance of the acclaimed revival of Gypsy. Anyone within a ten block radius of the St. James Theatre should brace themselves for this earth-shattering last Turn.

However, the NYC shenanigans start at a pre-show brunch with Steve and Doug, Sarah and friends (who were at the penultimate performance of Gypsy, forever to be known as the one where Patti tossed out the photographer), Jimmy and Kari (who will also be in the house with us).

Theatrical Highlights of the Year

1. Sunday in the Park With George. January 25, 2008 @ Studio 54. This was the first of three big musical revivals that set fire to the New York stage this year. An import from London, the cast was led by Olivier winners Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell, with able support from Mary Beth Peil (her ability to listen as an actress was a marvel to watch), Michael Cumpsty and Jessica Molaskey and company. The revival featured spectacular scenography, with breathtaking visual design that enhanced the experience. I’ve never seen the second act work so well before. The only complaint was the reduced orchestration.

2. Gypsy. March 27, 2008 @ the St. James Theatre. The superlative City Center Encores! production became the most acclaimed Broadway revival of the show in my lifetime. All but Nancy Opel transferred, bringing something more in depth to the tables as actors, as well as marking the return of Lenora Nemetz to Broadway after an absence of more than two decades. LuPone, Gaines and Benanti won deserved Tonys for their work, with the latter two providing especially definitive interpretations of their roles. Quibbles with the minimalist production, unnecessary edits and kabuki lamb not-with-standing, a stirring, earth-shattering revival of the Great American Musical.

3. A White House Cantata. March 31, 2008 @ Jazz at Lincoln Center. This marked the NY debut of the concert adaptation of Leonard Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner’s colossal (and much-loved, by me anyhow) flop 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Though a concert presentation from the Collegiate Chorale, it was important as it was a presentation of an incredibly rare and important Broadway score, one that has long been forgotten because of the embarrassment surrounding its original concept and staging. While I would have preferred theatre actors to opera singers, I was still thrilled for the opportunity to hear many of the favorites of the score performed live with Hershy Kay’s original orchestrations. I still hold out hope that the estates will let Encores! put on the original Broadway 1600 with Victoria Clark giving us the “Duet for One” (and perhaps a chance for the overture to be heard).

4. South Pacific. April 3, 2008 @ the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. One of the most entrancing musical revivals I’ve ever seen. My excitement for the production was high from the first announcement that the show was a go a couple years back. Kelli O’Hara and Paolo Szot oozed sensuality as Nellie and Emile, with his “This Nearly Was Mine” bringing down the house. Matthew Morrison sounded better than I’ve ever heard him sing, and his acting continues to grow more nuanced and polished. Danny Burstein channeled more than a little Bert Lahr into his Luther Billis, but that was okay. And finally, the delightfully gracious Loretta Ables-Sayre made her Broadway debut as Bloody Mary, finding depth and humor from within the character. The staging and its design were flawless, with eye-popping and lush visuals. Plus there was that packed orchestra with that glorious reveal during the Overture. What what was a pleasant surprise was that it quickly became (and still is) one of the hottest tickets in town.

5. La Fille du Regiment. April 18, 2008 @ the Metropolitan Opera House. I had never even heard of Donizetti’s opera comique when Sarah offered me a comp to the open dress rehearsal. Since it was the right price and seemed like a fantastic way to spend an afternoon, I was decidedly game. However, I didn’t expect to be totally overwhelmed by the production. World-renown coloratura Natalie Dessay was playing opposite tenor Juan Diego Florez, with Marian Seldes making her Met debut in a cameo role. I was thoroughly engaged but went into a near frenzy when Florez tackled that Mount Everest of arias, “Ah, mes ami! quel jour de fete!” (aka “Pour mon ame”). The aria demands nine high C’s in a row, and is a challenge for even the most nimble and technically proficient singer. It was one of those rare moments that you watch well aware that you – and everyone around you – is about to go completely wild with enthuiastic applause, which we certainly did. Dessay and Florez’s chemistry is palpable and their vocal blend is top-notch, and I hope to see them together again in La Sonnambula this spring.

6. No, No, Nanette. May 11, 2008 @ the City Center. Hands down, the best thing I’ve ever seen performed at Encores! There was the most polish, the sturdiest direction, the best choreography, costumes to complement stellar casting. The show itself is a wonderful example of the pre-Show Boat crowdpleasing musical comedy with its trite characters and machinations; however, the show, especially as seen in its 1971 revisal (presented here) is nothing but a huge Valentine to the 1920s (Thoroughly Modern Millie and The Drowsy Chaperone are decidedly not). Sandy Duncan tore it up at 62 with the chorines, kicking just as high and twice as energetic as the kids. Charles Kimbrough was charming. Mara Davi was an ingenue delight. Rosie O’Donnell had a blast supporting as the wise-cracking maid. Michael Berresse charmed and danced up a storm (another one who could have been a fantastic Joey Evans). But it was Beth Leavel who walked away with the evening, particularly her devastating eleven o’clock torcher “The Where-Has-My-Hubby-Gone-Blues.” Infectious, endearing and charming, we hummed all the way across the street to Seppi’s. This is one Encores! I wish made a transfer to Broadway.

7. Boeing Boeing. September 3, 2008 @ the Longacre Theatre. What should have been a tired, unfunny exercise in bad farce turned into one of the freshest comedies of the season, winning the Best Play Revival and Best Actor Tony awards. The success is owed in part to Matthew Warchus, who took this English adaptation of a third rate French farce and felt that there was something to work with there. The majority of the success; however, belongs to Tony-winner Mark Rylance in his Broadway debut. Originating the part in Warchus’ original London production in 2007, Rylance’s character was a complete creation of his own, finding succinct choices as an actor which proved uproarious onstage. Bradley Whitford, Christine Baranski, Kathryn Hahn and especially the fearless Mary McCormack provided sturdy support.

8. [title of show]. September 27, 2008 @ the Lyceum Theatre. The one everyone thought I’d hate, but to the surprise of apparently everyone, I absolutely adored it from start to finish. Fresh, effervescent and unyieldingly clever and entertaining, the show might have fared better had it played a smaller Broadway house like the Helen Hayes or the Circle in the Square. Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen, Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff are all heroes, with special mention of Blackwell’s unique comic sensibility (“Die, Vampire, Die!”) and Blickenstaff’s vocal prowess (“A Way Back to Then”). I hope they all receive Tony nominations this spring. A return visit for the closing performance only cemented my admiration for the show and those who created/starred in it. The final performance of “Nine People’s Favorite Thing” prompted the longest Routledge ever witnessed by this Aficionado – three whole minutes.

9. On the Town. November 23, 2008 @ the City Center. In celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s birthday, the Encores! crowd decided to present his first Broadway musical as the debut of their latest season. The score is superb, the comedy hilarious. The book is a trifle, but with such winning numbers, zany antics and plentiful opportunities for exceptional dancing. Tony Yazbeck is a star on the rise – and I am glad to have seen him in this. Andrea Martin was the comic highlight with her uproarious turn as Madame Dilly. Of course, they rumored a transfer, as seems to be the case for every favorably reviewed Encores! show, but that seems quite unlikely.

What I want to see next year: Blithe Spirit, Billy Elliot, Music in the Air at Encores!, Hedda Gabler, All My Sons, Equus, The Philanthropists, Waiting for Godot, The American Plan, 9 to 5, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Firebrand of Florence (Collegiate Chorale concert), La Sonnambula at the Met, West Side Story, 33 Variations, Mary Stuart, Impressionism, Accent on Youth, Happiness, Mourning Becomes Electra.

Quote of the Day: Tyne Daly on Rose

I then mentioned to Tyne that since the musical Gypsy is constantly revived, we should probably assume that it will come back again in a few years and, by the law of averages, someone sitting in the audience will probably be playing Mama Rose. Any tips? She turned out, glared and advised, “She is not a monster!” and stormed off. She’s still got it.

– Seth Rudetsky recapping his onstage conversation with Tony-winner Tyne Daly at the 20th anniversary of the “Gypsy of the Year” competition in his latest “Onstage & Backstage” column

Another Closing, Another Show

The acclaimed, Tony-winning revival of Gypsy appears to be the latest victim of our current economic crisis. It was announced today that the show is going to be closing on January 11, 2009 earlier than originally anticipated March 1 closing date. So if you’ve not had a chance, now is the time to see the three superlative characterizations of Patti LuPone, Laura Benanti and Boyd Gaines as you’ve got less than a month. Will any of the bloggerati who were at the opening night or post-Tony show be out for the last performance?

It’s a little frightening when you consider the shows that will be gone over the next few weeks: Spring Awakening, Hairspray, 13, Boeing Boeing, Grease, Spamalot and Young Frankenstein. That doesn’t include the current limited engagements of Liza at the Palace, Dividing the Estate, All My Sons, The Seagull, Equus, Speed the Plow, and A Man for All Seasons, which ended today. I wish the new shows still to open this season the best of luck, as it becomes more and more apparent that they will be facing an uphill climb to find an audience and establish a long term run. If you were hoping to see any of these shows, go! There are discounts to be had via the Playbill, Theatremania and Broadway Box websites. The shows may be going, but they haven’t gone yet!

Patti LuPone’s "Gypsy" to be filmed?

Those purchasing tickets for the final performances of Gypsy have been receiving the following notice as per an article on Playbill:

“IMPORTANT NOTICE: This performance of ‘Gypsy’ may be filmed for future purposes. Please be advised that stationary and moving cameras may be placed throughout the theatre as we attempt to capture this historic production on film.”