Patti LuPone as Momma Rose in this Encores! Summer Stars production at City Center, directed by Arthur Laurents, who wrote the book.
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Patti Lupone gives what may be THE performance of her career. From stopping the show DEAD with a standing ovation at “Sing Out Louise” through the heartbreaking “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” to the devastating finale, Ms Lupone grabs you by the throat reaching in to pull your heartstrings. She inhabits this character willingly thus allowing us a look at all the facets of Rose – the scheming, driving, dreaming, tenaciousness, yearning hunger and fearsome ambitions. With the climatic finale “Rose’s Turn”, Ms Lupone dives even further to the depths of Rose’s soul where we glimpse the nakedness of her life’s true desires.
<img alt="Laura Benanti, Patti LuPone, and Boyd Gaines in Gypsy
(© Joan Marcus)” src=”http://www.theatermania.com/news/images/11140a.jpg” align=right border=0>Boyd Gaines gives a superb performance as Herbie, the ever loving, ever steady helpmate/beau/side kick with subtle layers to his character building to his exit scene with the professionalism and skill exhibited in so many of his performances over the years – including the most recent Tony-nominated JOURNEY’S END. His ensembles with Ms Lupone and Ms Benanti are exquisite examples of duets and trios in musical theatre.
Right: Laura Benanti, Patti LuPone, and Boyd Gaines in Gypsy (© Joan Marcus)
Ms Benanti is a delight – transforming before our eyes from the tom boy oh-so-not-willing-to-be-on-stage to the take-charge center-stage persona of Gypsy Rose Lee revealing the steely core beneath the softness of young Louise. Not for nothing is she Madame Rose’s daughter. As her physical beauty is unveiled during her big “stripper” number, so her vocal beauty blossoms thru the progression from scared dutiful side kick of Baby June thru the tender longing of “Little Lamb” to the eloquent elegant stripper Rose Lee.
The entire company is beautifully cast – with credible young stars especially notable for their earnestness and honest performances. Tony Yazbek as Tulsa, the troupe member who runs off with June after singing “All I Need is the Girl,” is delightful and delicious – you will want to run away with him as well – he needs to be doing this kind of role somewhere else SOON.
Special praise for the orchestra and conductor Patrick Vaccariello performing this oft-played well-known music with panache and style and at a tempo which keeps the pace of the evening from dissolving into treacle.
Director Arthur Laurents celebrated his 89th birthday on Opening night (Saturday the 14th) and has presented the audience a wonderful gift in this multi-layered, realistic version of his original production. The original Jerome Robbins choreography adds to the perfection of the entire evening..
For three weeks only until July 29th at the New York City Center.
UPDATED 7–20–07 Terry Teachout’s review