Capital Critics' Circle
Le cercle des critiques de la capitale

Reviewing Theatre in Canada's Capital Region
La critique théâtrale de la région Ottawa-Gatineau

Gypsy: A Wonderful Revival

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage   ,

Photo Mark Howard.

For its first show of the season Boston’s Lyric Stage, which often produces musical theatre pieces, chose Arthur Laurents’, Jule Styne’s, and Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy. Gypsy is considered by many critics, scholars, and theatre artists as one of the greatest musicals of the mid-20th century when American musical comedy turned into musical theatre, a more well-rounded genre in which the narrative and characterization were on par with the songs, where comedy could remain an integral part of the show or be dropped.

In 1959, Ethel Merman created the leading role of Mama Rose, a woman dedicated to fulfilling her dream of seeing her two daughters become show business stars, who in Merman’s version was funny, cruel, selfish, powerful, and at times loving. Her loud (and for some abrasive) mezzo-soprano voice and her belting style were inimical.

Since the original closed in 1961, Gypsy has been revived four times on Broadway with Tyne Daly, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, and Patti Lupone as the lead. Tyne Daly, Angela Lansbury, and Patti Lupone won a Tony award, while Bernadette Peters was nominated. What their performances have in common is that their interpretations are less vulgar, tough, lower class, and over the top than Merman’s.
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Sondheim on Sondheim: An Evening with the Great Man and His Music

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage   ,

sondheim from ASSASSINS. Photo by Mark S. Howard

Photo Mark S. Howard

Boston’s Lyric Stage, a professional theatre company, demonstrates its commitment to the city by hiring mainly local performers, musicians, and technicians. It shows its commitment to talent through its long-term policy of inclusive casting. The majority of their productions are new American plays that have recently been released to the regionals. Artistic director Spiro Veloudos has a particular fondness for musical theatre.

Veloudos’s current show, Sondheim on Sondheim, devised by James Lapine, is a paean to the great composer-lyricist. It is at once a live musical revue and a filmed documentary. Sondheim wrote one new number for it, the autobiographical God. Set designer, David Towlun and lighting designer Chris Hudacs create the impression of Broadway at the opening with two glittering marquees that cover the Lyric’s upstage balconies. Later, the marquees become screens projecting images that pertain to Sondheim’s life. Center stage, hangs an enormous screen, primarily used to show interviews with Sondheim at various stages of his more than half-century career. The actors perform on a rectangular platform and the stage itself.

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