Saturday, August 22, 2015

theatre review - GYPSY - Scottsdale Musical Theatre Company - August 20, 2015

Sarah Cassidy, Terry Gadaire and Debra Qualtire
Photo: Zachary Youmans

Click here for more information on this production that runs through Sunday August 23rd.

"Widely regarded as one of the greatest musicals, Gypsy is receiving a fairly good production from Scottsdale Musical Theater Company. This backstage story of the mother of all stage mothers and the creation of infamous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee has leads who create realistic characters and strong direction. It is a solid production of this beloved musical....the main focus of Gypsy is on Lee's mother, Rose, and her desperate attempt to turn her two daughters (June and Louise) into stars. Set in the tacky worlds of the touring vaudeville circuit of the 1920s and the raunchier burlesque environs of the 30s, we equally admire, love, pity and also cringe at this determined, delusional stage mother who pokes, prods and pushes her daughters and will do anything to make her children famous, but deep down hungers for the limelight herself. It is also a cautionary tale of the desperate desire and drive for fame....Director David Hock has assembled a talented cast, led by Debra Qualtire as Rose and Sarah Cassidy as Gypsy Rose Lee. Qualtire delivers a fairly nuanced performance...While I wish she displayed a few more moments of true terrifying force and showed us more clearly how Rose ultimately turns into a broken down woman, and a few times on opening night she stumbled and paused a few times in her line delivery, it still results in a nuanced performance of this show biz trouper who won’t let anything, or anyone, get in her way. Qualtire also has a warm, strong voice, delivering lively versions of her songs, including a strong “Rose’s Turn” that is only missing a moment of ferocity and insanity to make it truly heartbreaking....Sarah Cassidy does a skillful job in portraying Louise’s transition from the shy, mousy and quiet “tom boy” in the background to the calculating, manipulative and bawdy woman, who learns to use sex, or sexual innuendo, to her advantage....Terry Gadaire is Herbie, Rose’s lover and the girl’s agent, and he is fantastic, instilling the character with a deep amount of warmth, even as he is continually manipulated by the woman he simply loves and just wants to marry...Gadaire...delivers a stirring, affecting performance....Hock keeps the show grounded in reality, only rarely dipping into caricature or camp. He also doesn’t skirt the emotional issues at the core, and ensures the dialogue scenes are as skillfully delivered as the many show stopping musical numbers. His actors have excellent chemistry with each other, and also deliver realistic characters, all of which is a testament to Hock’s directorial skills. However, he does rush the very end of “Rose's Turn,” with Louise coming on too quickly, so a key moment doesn’t quite resonate and the long transitions between scenes will hopefully be faster once the cast and crew get more performances under their belts. Hock also should reel in a couple of the ensemble members who are overacting.... Kevin Hayward’s music direction is assured and he also conducts the large orchestra with skilled playing throughout including an overture that is played with gusto..."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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