|The first show of the 2008-09
season, Off The Wall Theatre presented what is generally considered
to be the greatest musical of all-time, GYPSY! With a razzmatazz
score by Jule Styne, biting lyrics by-Stephen Sondheim, and a brilliant
book by Arthur Laurents, Gypsy has been-revived four different times on
Broadway alone. For the actress playing Mama-Rose, it is the KING LEAR
of musical theatre, a demanding and explosive-role, requiring not only
depth and nuance, but lungs of steel.
The show really does have something for everyone as it offers an inside-look into show business from Vaudeville to Burlesque, and form the bottom to-the top. It is the quintessential show-biz story, as Madame Rose drags her-kids from town to town with their not so great song and dance act – determined to reach stardom if it kills them all. It is a musical fable of the young lives of Gypsy Rose Lee and her sister June Havoc, one who went on to star on Broadway, the other who became the world's most famous stripper.
The show contains some of the most famous songs in the Broadway lexicon, including: "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Together Wherever We-Go," "Let me Entertain You," "Small World," "All I Need Now is the Girl," – and of course the show stopping "Gotta Have a Gimmick" performed by three-worn out strippers.
Director Dale Gutzman and Musical Director Anne Van Dusen put together a top notch cast ranging in ages from eight to sixty, and they all sang and danced. Starring as Mama Rose was Sharon Rise, who has appeared in-dozens of shows for Off the Wall, including CHESS and GRAND HOTEL. Appearing-as Herbie, her tag-along lover, was Milwaukee Robert Hirschi, who-recently played Shakespeare in "THE FROGS." Starring as Louise, who becomes Gypsy,was Alison Mary Forbes, one of Milwaukee's most promising new talents, and as her sister June, Liz Mistele, who in the 2007-08 season appeared-as Ophelia in HAMLET, and in DEATH ON THE NILE. As the three strippers, Kristin Pagenkopf, Nancy Visintainer Armstrong, and Annie Mater rocked the Milwaukee Theatre world. And as Tulsa, the young hoofer with dreams-of stadom, Tyson Monroe made his profession debut. Other Milwaukee-favorites in the cast included: Lawrence Lukasavage, Tom Welcenbach and Kurtis Witzelsteiner.
Technical Director David Roper worked his usual magic with the tiny-Off The Wall space, creating a Burlesque House feeling with runways and lots-of theatricality with lights. Poster and projections were also used to-create the world of show business circa nineteen-thirty.