“Everything’s Coming Up Roses”

In the last 50 years there have been five Broadway productions of Gypsy, with five distinct and laudable star turns. There was the first: the smash hit original with Ethel Merman that ran 702 performances. Revivals followed with Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone. Each has its champions and its detractors. I admire all five performances, no one Rose is like any other. Merman may not have been a strong actress, but the power of her performance is undeniable. Lansbury’s portrait contains a nuanced ferocity that was heartbreaking. Tyne Daly, not necessarily known for her singing, gave a thrillingly earthy performance. Bernadette received better reviews than people remember and her performance marked a very important milestone in my life.

And of course there is the most recent: Patti (and the reason for this blog). She revisited the iconic act one finale “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” last night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The Tony winner has been making the talk show rounds plugging her just-released, self-titled memoir. Merman, of course, sang this song at almost every concert and event post-Gypsy (including Ronald Reagan’s inauguration). Gypsy was the legend’s proudest achievement and she herself felt she could never top it, so she never originated another role. I’ve never heard Tyne or Bernadette revisit this song in concert (though Bernadette does a thrilling “Rose’s Turn” in concert) but hearing Patti sing it on a late night TV talk show – out of its context and without costume – it reminded me a bit of Merman, who sang the song until she stopped making public appearances.

First up is Merm. This particular performance was one of her last, from the 1982 special “The Best of Broadway Merman’s health was starting to fail around this time. The star died in 1984 after a year long battle with cancer. Her physicality was diminished, but that voice was unstoppable…


Lansbury was daunted at the prospect of taking on Gypsy, giving the formidable impression Merman made with the show, even turning the show down the first time she was asked. But she eventually accepted, with one of the great performances of her career. She sang “Roses” at the close of the 1975 Tonys, at which she took home her third Tony for her Rose. However, here is one that I love even more – her rendition to open the 1989, which sets an incredibly high standard for the evening and gets the audience going…


And of course, there’s Patti from last night. When she starred in Evita, she was seen on various shows including Carson and Merv Griffin talking and performing (almost always “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina”). Nowadays, we don’t see this sort of Broadway-TV crossover, (unless a young pop flavor of the month steps in for stunt casting) and while it was a welcome sight to see the star tearing things up, it was as much a joy to watch host Jimmy Fallon, whose enthusiasm for the Broadway legend and her performance could not be curbed…


2 thoughts on ““Everything’s Coming Up Roses””

  1. My friend’s and I exchanged emails about how fast and loud LuPone’s performance on Fallon’s show was. Here are my notes:

    LuPone’s performance from when she begins singing to the end of the song is 2:28.

    Merman’s live performance onstage in 1959 is 3:03, but she includes all the consonants. And the applause starts before she finishes the last phrase: http://www.orderprocessing1.com/temp/roses1959.wma

    This guy does it in 2:53. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gXKxipviCY

  2. THRILLING performance by Patti! Of course, I love every performance of Everything’s Coming Up Roses, but just wow. Jimmy’s reaction was classic – what a thrill for her.

Comments are closed.