RISE & SHINE BROADWAY FANS!! Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend. We are only 27 days away from Broadway’s biggest night of the year, the 71st Annual Tony Awards. Our TOP 30 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN continues with more Broadway powerhouse performances from the past 71 telecasts.
Speaking of Mother’s Day, our selection for #27 on the countdown is about the bossiest stage mother of them all, “Rose Thompson Hovick” (aka “Mama Rose”) from Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim‘s legendary musical GYPSY. It also features a book by Arthur Laurents and is loosely based off a memoir by Rose Louise Hovick (aka Gypsy Rose Lee, the most famous burlesque performer in the world).
From the 2008 telecast, Tony-winner (and a Tony nominee this year) Patti LuPone, from the most recent Broadway revival of the show, brings down the house with a roof-shaking performance of one of the musical’s signature songs “EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSES.” The cast in this performance also features Tony-winners Laura Benanti as “Louise” and Boyd Gaines as “Herbie.”
GYPSY originally premiered on Broadway in 1959 at the Broadway Theatre (and later transferred to the Imperial Theatre) for 702 performances. The original production starred the legendary first belter of Musical Theatre, Ethel Merman, as “Mama Rose” along with Sandra Church as “Louise” and Jack Klugman as “Herbie.” It was nominated for 8 Tony Awards in 1960 including Best Musical, but lost in all of its categories. Following the success of the original Broadway run, GYPSY went on to tour across America and around the world.
The show was later revived on Broadway four times starting in 1974 (following the success of the musical’s World Premiere in London’s West End that following year) at the Winter Garden Theatre for a limited run of 124 performances. That first revival starred the legendary Dame Angela Lansbury as “Mama Rose,” Zan Charisse as “Louise,” and Rex Robbinson as “Herbie.” It was nominated for 3 Tony Awards in 1975 winning only 1 for Best Leading Actress in a Musical (for Angela Lansbury).
The second Broadway revival happened in 1989 playing the St. James Theatre (and later transferring to the Marquis Theatre) for 499 performances. This cast featured Tyne Daly (and later Linda Lavin) as “Mama Rose,” Crista Moore as “Louise,” and Jonathan Hadary (and later Jamie Ross) as “Herbie.” It was nominated for 4 Tony Awards in 1990, winning 2 for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Leading Actress in a Musical (for Tyne Daly).
The third Broadway revival happened in 2003 playing the Shubert Theatre for 484 performances. This cast featured two-time Tony-winner Bernadette Peters (who previously appeared as “Baby June” in the original production’s first National Tour) as “Mama Rose,” Emmy-winner Tammy Blanchard as “Louise,” and John Dossett as “Herbie.” It was nominated for 4 Tony Awards that same year including Best Revival of a Musical, but lost in all of its categories.
The most recent Broadway revival (as seen in this clip) happened in 2008 (based on the acclaimed New York City Center Encores production) returning to the St. James Theatre for 359 performances. This revival was nominated for 7 Tony Awards winning 3 for Best Leading Actress, Featured Actor, and Featured Actress in a Musical (for Patti LuPone, Boyd Gaines, and Laura Benanti). The most recent revival was well known for a little onstage drama that happened on the second-to-last night before this revival closed, in which LuPone famously ranted and threw out a group of audience members who were taking three illegal flash-photographs during the show’s climax number, “ROSE’S TURN.” Someone at the same time sneaked audio of that incident, which went viral on YouTube.
GYPSY is currently being rumored to come back to Broadway with a fifth revival based on the 2016 West End production that swept the Olivier Awards, starring Imelda Staunton as “Mama Rose.” Fingers crossed.
The musical has also been captured on film three times starting in 1962, starring Rosalind Russell as “Mama Rose,” earning her a Golden Globe Award for her performance. The second time was in 1993 as a TV film starring (another Tony nominee this year) Bette Midler as “Mama Rose,” in which she received an Emmy Award for her performance. The most recently captured presentation was a filmed performance of that 2016 acclaimed West End revival with Imelda Staunton, which was seen on Great Performances l PBS.
Doesn’t this musical make you wanna shout “SING OUT LOUISE”??!!!
Patti LuPone’s performance from the 2008 Tony Awards