Port Townsend High School
1500 Van Ness
Port Townsend, WA 98368
Phone: 360.379.4520 Fax: 360.379.4505
Gypsy, the PTHS 2008 Spring Musical
Gypsy opened on Broadway on May 21, 1959 and ran for 702 performances with Ethel Merman as Rose. Revivals include one with Angela Lansbury which opened on London’s West End in 1973 and then moved to Broadway in 1974 and one with Tyne Daly as Rose in 1989, making it a hit all over again and cementing the book by Arthur Laurents as of one of the finest ever written for a musical. Most recently, Bernadette Peters undertook this dream role and gave it her own coquettish twist in 2003. The fact that Rose, who as a character can, “hold her own with Shakespeare’s fatally flawed creations, can be interpreted by such a disparate group of women without growing stale as the years pass is a final, lasting testament to the brilliance and universality of Gypsy.” (Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Musicals of All Time)
For PTHS’s production of Gypsy, junior Jessica Reid will portray the ruthless stage mother, Rose Hovick, who propels her two children, June and Louise, through the dying years of vaudeville. Reid, who has attended National Honor Choir three times, has attacked this vocally challenging role with enthusiasm. Director, Jennifer Nielsen, says of Jessica, “We are all grateful that Jessica and her musically supportive family decided to move to Port Townsend from Wyoming last year. We needed a strong actress for Rose and with her vocal ability and her stage presence, Jessica fits the part perfectly.”
Some might suppose that the story of the world’s most famous stripper is not appropriate for a high school musical, but Gypsy is about so much more than stripping. Based upon the best selling memoir Gypsy, by Louise Hovick (AKA Gypsy Rose Lee), the musical focuses on Rose’s unrelenting dreams of stardom in the theater for her daughters and herself. When youngest daughter, June, elopes with one of the dancers from their group when she is only 13 years old, Rose is left with the “no-talent” Louise. Instead of giving up the dream, Rose focuses all of her energies on Louise, but as vaudeville slowly dies, they continue their downward spiral and eventually land in the tawdry world of burlesque. Through a series of unexpected events, Louise becomes “Gypsy Rose Lee” and finally finds her niche, however, she is “always a lady” doing little beyond dropping a shoulder strap and showing some leg. Rather than a story about Burlesque or stripping, Gypsy is about a turbulent mother-daughter relationship played out with the death of a once vibrant art form, vaudeville, as a backdrop.
Another overpowering reason for choosing this musical, according to Nielsen and musical director Beth Noelle, was its fabulous score. With music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the score takes the audience on a roller coaster ride of emotions from the heart-wrenching “Little Lamb” sung by Louise on her sixth consecutive tenth birthday, to the lively “If Mama was Married” sung desperately by Louise and June, to the dramatic “Rose’s Turn” sung by Rose in the finale of this rare tragicomic musical. Other songs include “All I Need is the Girl”, “Small World”, “Some People”, “Together Wherever We Go” and the fabulous advice-filled trio from the strippers, “You Gotta Get a Gimmick.”
Senior Samantha Brasier-Agnew will portray Louise from tomboy to Burlesque queen and Makaela Euro will appear as the talented but suppressed June. Robby Sepler will play Herbie, the nearly always faithful manager, and Paul Krabill will play Tulsa, the group’s most talented dancer who sings “All I Need is the Girl.” The cast includes younger students playing the main characters as they leave Seattle to start their show business careers: Hana McAdam, Addi Richert, Emily Huntingford, Alethea Westlund, Emma Nissen and Sara Fullerton. The youngest member of the cast is Maya Reda-Williams who portrays the balloon girl at auditions for Uncle Jocko’s Kiddie Show.
The cast of over 30 is rounded out with Rose Burt, Emily Strickland, Henry Nolan, Kellyn Traenkenschuh, Alyssa Giesler, Camille Hardeman, Destiny Eby, Madeline Levy, Mackenzie Sepler, Sara Pierce, Dreena Bailey-Gohn, Katy Lischalk, Cody Anderson, Brooklin Larsen, Breanna Moore, Simone DeRochfort, Sean Anthony, Alex Lovett, Christian Lundgren, and Renada Walcome many of whom play more than one character.
Choreographer Debra Addae has taken on the challenge of recreating the vaudeville numbers which make the show so special. The technical staff includes Steve Arbuckle as lighting designer and technical director, Michelle Stay as scenic artist, Katya Taylor as costume designer and Angela Agnew as make-up and hair designer. Jim Guthrie, Chris Trudeau and the PTHS carpentry class students are building the set pieces to signify over 14 different scenes.
Gypsy opens on May 2, 2008 and plays Friday and Saturday nights through May 17 at 7:00 pm in the PTHS auditorium. A special Mother’s Day matinee on May 11th will start at 2:30 pm. Admission is $12.00 for adults, $6.00 for seniors and students w/o PTHS ASB, and $4.00 for students w/ ASB and children under 12. Tickets are available at the door.
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