Monday, July 18, 2016

Gypsy is a Hit at Shreveport Little Theatre

The Shreveport Little Theatre has a huge hit with its summer musical, Gypsy, based on the life of Gypsy Rose Lee.

We took in the Sunday matinee yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as did the rest of the packed house.

The story follows Mama Rose, played by Linnea Fayard Allen, as she raises her two daughters in show business.  Working the vaudeville circuit is tough and Rose is a tough stage mother.  The dreams of being on stage seem to be Rose's of course, but eventually daughter June runs off to be an actress and daughter Louise becomes the famous Gypsy Rose Lee.

The musical is huge - it's long and the cast is large, and SLT handles this beautifully; I was amazed at the numerous set changes that the crew had to navigate, but it all flowed seamlessly.

The music was of course wonderful; the orchestra sounded great and there are many familiar tunes in this play such as Gypsy's signature "Let Me Entertain You," "Everything's Coming up Roses," and "Together," to name but a few.

Linnea Fayard Allen was stunning as Mama Rose; everyone around here knows she's a fantastic singer, but as Mama Rose she belted out these sometimes challenging tunes with the flair of the true professional that she is.  Her facial expressions and movements were adorable and she was able to make Mama Rose such a sympathetic character.  I'm not a theater critic so forgive my ignorance, but it seems to me that in the wrong hands, Mama June could be seen as an overbearing and unlikable figure, but of course she is not.  Ms. Allen's performance of "Rose's Turn" was outstanding and emotional.

Tessa Anderson as Louise was wonderful and she has a lovely voice.  She makes the transition from innocent Louise to sultry Gypsy both heartbreaking and exciting.  Giddy about her mother's imminent marriage to Herbie, Louise's heartbreak is palpable as all of her dreams of a normal family and a settled home are shattered.  She takes the satin gloves from Rose and the transformation is done, her confidence as a burlesque performer increasing with each performance.

Speaking of Herbie, Pat Maxie did a fine job as the candy salesman/agent who fell in love with Mama Rose.  His own heartbreak was tragic when he finally realizes she will never marry him, she will never change, and she will never stop micro-managing her daughter's life.

A wonderful surprise for me was the performance of Dwayne Durham, Jr. as Tulsa.  His big scene when he tells Louise of his dreams was just stunning.  He's a young man with a lot of talent that I hope to see more of in future productions.

Truly this is a huge cast and there are so many great performances.  Just treat yourself and try to catch one of the remaining performances - you won't be sorry.

Call the SLT office for tickets at 318-424-4439, or go online to order.

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