Anyone wondering where to find remnants of the golden age of musicals will be thrilled to learn of this production of GYPSY presented by Music Theater Works. The beautiful proscenium theatre in the Cahn Auditorium is a perfect venue for this true-to-form musical. The audience is able to sit back and let the lavishness wash over them from start to finish.
Stage Mother Horror
If you’re unfamiliar, the plot is quite simple. Rose has a dream to make her daughters famous on the Vaudeville circuit. She creates acts around her daughter June, which also include her daughter Louise to a far lesser extent. Though the girls’ own feelings seem to not even register as a small priority to Rose, she will stop at nothing to achieve this dream. It is quite clear from the start that Rose, in fact, is the epitome of reaching for one’s own dreams through their children.
Music Theater Works Emphasizes the Music
The score written by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim is brought to full life by an orchestra led by Roger L. Bingaman. The beauty of the overture is like a wave of pleasure that fills the entire room. This is the way to experience the music from one of the most famous examples of classic Broadway. If you’re a fan of the score already, the first few bars of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” will give you chills. Frankly, it may do that even if you are new to the show despite not knowing what’s to come.
Mary Robin Roth does a fine job with her portrayal of the monstrous yet entertaining Rose. The stage mother persona is exemplified by her brash acting choices and somehow keeps the audience endeared to her. The finales of each act are given a hearty exclamation point by Roth’s bold renditions of Rose’s signature songs.
The real stand-out in this cast, however, is Lexis Danca as Louise, the supposed “less talented and less appealing” daugher. Her singing voice is tragically underused but is stunning when we get the chance to hear it. Danca embodies the vulnerability of Louise with subtlety and grace. She never loses sight of the strength Louise has needed to survive her childhood.
A scene-stealing performance is given by three wonderfully comedic actresses as sassy burlesque dancers explaining how one “gets ahead” in that business. Alexis Armstrong, Emily Barnash and Anna Dvorchak each give a hilarious performance.
This show is for lovers of traditional musicals. It is performed well and the score is given all the respect it deserves.
Photos by Brett Beiner
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Top Pick For: Golden Age of Musicals Lovers
Not recommended for: Musical Haters
Note: an excerpt of this review appears in Theater in Chicago.
August 19 - August 27
Saturday, August 19 at 8pm
Sunday, August 20 at 2pm
Wednesday, August 23 at 2pm
Thursday, August 24 at 2pm
Friday, August 25 at 8pm
Saturday, August 26 at 8pm
Sunday, August 27 at 2pm
Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, Evanston
Start at $34. Ages 25 and younger half price
Online at www.musictheaterworks.com
By phone at 847-920-5360