Warwick, RI – Amiee Turner’s “Rose” and Kristin Wetherington’s “Louise” begin Ocean State Theatre’s “Gypsy” committed to dreams of success in show business, but vaudeville’s turning into something else, and so are they.
The characters’ evolution creeps upon the audience while they’re distracted by Rose’s overbearing personality and Louise’s struggle to live up to her sister’s rising star.
A clever visual strobe effect brings the audience through the years that turn Rose’s child performers into young adults, but their ultimate futures come as a surprise, even for those familiar with the famed Gypsy Rose Lee, the most popular stripper in the world in the 1940s and 50s.
The musical, based on the Lee’s 1957 memoir, Gypsy, is considered by critics the best American musical. Many of the show’s songs, including “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Let Me Entertain You,” became popular standards.
Turner delivers a seductive performance, artfully disguising Rose’s stage mother ambition as an earnest concern for her children’s careers until the last possible moments, when even a student of history might be forgiven for holding out hope that her daughter’s grown-up destiny is not the destination history has spelled out.
“Together Wherever We Go,” performed by Wetherington, Turner, and Christopher Swan as Herbie, lays a lot of the groundwork for that wishful suspension of disbelief in worldly ways. The performance, and the possible bright future outlined within, was well received by the crowd, if generous applause is any indication.
Earlier in the show, the reaction to “Little Lamb” performed by Wetherington, displays Louise’s longing for a more personal family life, a sentiment the actress makes easy to identify with.
The capping moments of the musical are effectively presented as Turner’s Rose faces a moment of truth, with Wetherington’s Louise rapidly growing up in the space of a few pregnant silences.
Gypsy Rose Lee’s story is one of stunning success, but the ensemble, Swan, Wetherington and Turner do such a good job you’re left longing for the lives Rose and Louise might have had.
Gypsy will be presented at Ocean State Theatre through Aug. 2. Performances will be held Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays (except July 11 & 25) and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets for “Gypsy” are $39-$54. The theatre is located at 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, RI.
From left) Tamra Stephenson, Jennifer Mischley and Taryn Mallard-Reid portray strippers Mazeppa, Electra and Tessie Tura in the Tony® Award-winning classic American musical, Gypsy,