“Gypsy” at Alcazar Theater

“Gypsy” at Alcazar Theatre

Carol Benet

One of the most beloved Broadway shows “Gypsy” is playing at the Alcazar Theater in San Francisco until December 8, 2019. “Gypsy” is and always has been a hit — A A A plus.

The book for the show by Arthur Laurens is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of the famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. Dozen’s of songs by composer Jule Styne with Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics have remained in the canon of  the “Great American Songbook” since the show’s premier in 1959 when it won numerous coveted Tony Awards. Jerome Robbins directed and choreographed the original Broadway show.

Bay Area Musicals production of “Gypsy”  is directed and choreographed by Matthew McCoy, founder of the company.  He also designed the sets and lighting.   John Gallo leads the fine ten-piece band that remains on the stage the entire time as it plays the famous song- packed score.  It’s a show where you go out humming some of the tunes:  “Some People,”  “Small World”, “You’ll Never Get Away From Me”, “Everything’s Coming up Roses”, “Together Wherever We Go” and “Let Me Entertain You” and others.

Rose, performed by a fabulous singer/actor Ariela Morgenstern,  is the ultimate stage mother.  She has two daughters June and Louise to raise in the world of vaudeville. She pushes them onto the stage and we see two casts, when they are children with precocious  Baby June (Emma Berman), shy Baby Louise (Chloe Fong) and a few others under her tutelage.  She is only sometimes successful in peddling her acts. 

As time goes by they, as adults June (Tia Konsur) and Louise (Jade Sojaaee),  do get bookings but Rose’s boyfriend Herbie (DC Scarpelli) says “Vaudeville is dead” so Rose has to submit to  the lowly, tawdry form of Burlesque that has taken over  The story tells that the early star June runs away and the shy Louise must perform for her.  Louise eventually becomes the famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, but with class.  Sometimes the simplest plots are the best ones for wonderful music-laced productions.

“Gypsy” requires a huge cast because it shows the girls and the other kids at the beginning and later as adults.  The extras are people at the theater: agents, secretaries (Elaine Jennings, Olivia Cabera), newsboys, performers  and other ensemble members as the show moves from city to city.  It is all a riotous affair performed by members of the talented Bay Area theater community.

This excellent production helps the legend of “Gypsy” that certainly will remain one of the most venerated Broadway musicals of all time.  Bay Area Musicals, founded by Matthew McCoy, celebrates its fifth year and begins its season with “Gypsy” followed by “The Full Monty”, “A Chorus Line” and “In the Heights” through August 9, 2020.  All shows take place at the tastefully renovated Alcazar Theater 650 Geary with its beautiful  art decorated lobby.   Tickets from BAMSF.org.  

About the Author

Carol BenetCarol Benet received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, where she won an Outstanding Teaching Award. She also received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. Her teaching assignments have been at UC Berkeley, UC Berkeley Extension, Dominican University and Washington State University. Currently she holds literature discussion groups in Marin County and San Francisco and is a critic of the arts for The Ark Newspaper and a contributor to ARTSSF.com and ForAllEvents.com.View all posts by Carol Benet →