Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! This month, we’re celebrating the 60th anniversary of the great Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim musical, Gypsy, which opened on Broadway on May 21, 1959! A classic show built for a diva — Ethel Merman — there have been many memorable productions with strong Roses over the years. And a lot of these productions have spawned delightful bootleg audios, offering us theatre nerds a chance to hear a multitude of mamas — everyone from Angela Lansbury to Joyce DeWitt (no, I’m not kidding).
So, there’s a lot that I could share here in this week’s post, but in an effort to keep things simple, I’m going to highlight three of my favorites — and, as always, for subscribers with no commercial designs on this material whatsoever who comment below to alert me of their interest, I’ll be happy to send them to you for your critical and scholastic pleasure… We start, of course, with the original and this blog’s patron saint herself, Ethel Merman, in an audio from her closing night performance — March 25, 1961. Here’s her “Rose’s Turn.”
And then there’s Lansbury, who played the role in London in 1973 (where she recorded the score — my second favorite album after the original OBC with Merman), and then on Broadway in 1974. This is her “Rose’s Turn” from a soundboard taken from the latter production. (It’s speculated that this may be closing night — January 04, 1975).
Now, there are a lot of other Roses I could also praise — Dolores Gray, Tyne Daly, Linda Lavin, Lorna Luft, Betty Buckley, Patti LuPone, the list goes on… but I gotta say, I appreciate Bernadette Peters. This revival also released a cast album, but her new take on the role divided theatergoers because she dared to actually have a new take — which was refreshing… if not ideal. Here’s her “Rose’s Turn” — from May 01, 2003: opening night. Enjoy!
Come back next month for more Musical Theatre rarities! And stay tuned tomorrow for more Raymond!