Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim’s musical "Gypsy" opened this past Saturday at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre in a nicely done and warmly received production by Bloomington Music Works.
The story is that of the indominatible stage mother, Mama Rose and her daughters, June and Gypsy. Kelly Samarzea sang very well as Mama. She showed both the iron determination and the vulnerability of the character. Scott Tilson was Mama’s devoted boyfriend, always seeking matrimony and always denied. Lauren Brown was a delight as an inept actress, but an accomplished gymnastic dervish in the role of the Baby June of the early family act. Melissa Sara Korzec was the homely vaudeville daughter, Louise, who eventually blossoms into the burlesque queen, Gypsy Rose Lee. Diane Coloton, was both the most motherly and outrageous of strippers, Miss Tessie Tura.
Throughout the evening at the Buskirk-Chumley there was almost the feeling of a family get-together. "Gypsy" has a huge cast, but fifteen of them, including the conductor and producer Brian Samarzea came from four families. Likewise there was a feeling of community as there were children, teens, and adults from both the community and the university. In the excellent orchestra as well as on stage, there were professionals and amateurs all sharing in the fun.
Once again I was reminded of how cleverly Styne and Sondheim’s show takes us through the history of the family’s vaudeville act as each time it is gussied up with a new look, new characters and the same tired lines. Productions of "Gypsy" always have a tough time convincing us that the shy and reticent Louise can suddenly become a headliner in as rough an area as burlesque, but Saturday night’s show did a better than average job of it.
The Bloomington Music Works production of Sondheim and Styne’‘s "Gypsy" plays this Friday and Saturday at eight at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre.