GYPSY a winner with Ariela Morgenstern as Rose by Bay Area Musicals

GYPSY: A Musical Fable. Music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents. Bay Area Musicals, directed and choreographed by Matthew McCoy. Alcazar Theatre, 650 Geary St, San Francisco, CA. 

November 9 –December 8, 2019

GYPSY a winner with Ariela Morgenstern as Rose by Bay Area Musicals Rating: ★★★★☆1/2

Bay Area Musicals has again produced a winning show with Gypsy starring Ariela Morgenstern as Rose, DC Scarpelli as Herbie, Jade Shojaee as Louise [later to become Gypsy Rose Lee] and Emma Berman as Baby June. These actors are the stars of the show with great backup by a competent supporting cast with special accolades going to Jean-Paul Jones as Tulsa who has his turn to shine in the solo song and dance number “All I need is the Girl.”

Ariela Morgenstern shines as the manipulative Rose.

The original production on Broadway in 1959 was a smash hit with Ethel Merman in the lead role of Rose. Revivals on Broadway won accolades for Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters and Patti Lupone. You can now add the name of Ariela Morgenstern to that select list as she belted her heart out to an appreciative audience on opening night at the Alcazar Theater. She had excellent backup by a 10 piece onstage orchestra helmed by Jon Gallo that treated the audience to an extended opening number(s).

Director/choreography Matthew McCoy must have a lot of chuzpath to undertake a show with a group of 10 youngsters to whip into shape and a real live dog (McNguyen) to keep in line. Those youngsters came through infamously lacerating the atrocious “May We Enter You?” with vigor, almost never in sync and that is the way it should be with the exception of fantastic Emma Berman doing splits and kip-ups while twirling a baton.

Emma Berman as “Baby June”

Chutzpah is the trademark of the lead character Mama Rose who attempts to fulfill her drab life through dreams of making her daughter June (adult June is Tia Konsur) while neglecting daughter Louise (Baby Louise is Chloe Fong). Jade Shojaee’s transformation from shy inept adult Louise to a beautiful butterfly sets the tone for her later fame as Gypsy Rose Lee.

Of those five major characters, DC Scarpelli has the thankless role of Herbie who is in love with Rose despite all her faults . . . and she has many. He carries off the role with great skill and an occasional off-key note that, actually, is appropriate for the part.  However this staging of Gypsy belongs to Morgenstern who has most of the show stoppers as she belts them out and captures the audience with her singing yet remains an unlikeable classic “stage mother.” Her final opus of “Rose’s Turn” with her name in gigantic red lights almost brought the audience to their feet.

Morgenstern gets show stopping competition from Tessie Tura (Elaine Jennings),Mazeppa (Olivia Cabera) and Electra (Glenna Murillo) the burlesque queens who teach Louise the ropes of how to strip to the strains of  “You Gotta Get a Gimmick.” Their raunchy routine(s) are hilarious greeted with  great applause and hoots and hollers rewarding them for their effort. Kudos to costume designer Brooke Jennings.

The score is fantastic by Jule Styne and the then young Stephen Sondheim at their best. It is definitely a show where you come out humming the tunes (In order of their appearance): “May We Entertain You”, “Some People”, “Small World”, “You’ll Never Get Away From Me”, “If Momma Was Married”, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”, “Together Wherever We Go”, “You Gotta Get A Gimmick”. “Let Me Entertain You” and “Rose’s Turn.”

Running Time:  GYPSY runs approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes, including one intermission.

CAST: Ariela Morgenstern, Rose;   Jade Shojaee as Louise;  DC Scarpelli as Herbie; Tia Konsur  as June;  Jean Paul Jones as Tulsa; Chloe Fong  as Baby Louise;  Emma Berman as Baby June; Glenna Murillo as Electra;  Mark Robinson as  Jocko/Goldstone/Cigar;  Dakota Colussi  as Newsboy;    Kayla Yee as Newsboy;   Phillip Levya as Yonkers.; Cassie Grilley as Agnes;  Tia Konsur as June;  Jean Paul Jones as Tulsa; Elaine Jennings  as Tessie/Miss Cratchitt;  Olivia Cabera as Mazeppa; Ernie Tovar  as Weber/Patsey;   Amber Lee Wunderlich as Newsboy;   Juan Castro  as Kanas;  Benjamin Nguyen as L.A.;   April Deutschle as Geraldine ; Veronica Ortiz as Marjorie May.

CREATIVE TEAM: Director & Choreographer, Matthew McCoy; Music Director, Jon Gallo; Scenic Designer, Matthew McCoy; Costume Designer, Brooke Jennings; Lighting Designer, Matthew McCoy; Sound Designer, Anton Hedman; Wig Designer, Jacqueline Dennis; Production Manager, Cat Knight; Stage Manager, Jane Troja; Assistant Stage Managers, Andrea Fanelli, Isaac Traister.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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