It’s no surprise that the Skinner Barn production of “Gypsy” is a masterfully produced musical – that is to be expected. What sets this year’s production apart from prior years is the combination of singing and dancing. The sheer volume of choreography and the skill of the dancers is impressive – and lots of fun.
"Gypsy," a musical based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, opened last week and runs this week through Sunday, July 29, at the Skinner Barn in Waitsfield. With an impressive cast and crew and a great band, the show is great fun. The theater-in-the-round style seating and the great often minimalist props really work for this show.
The tale starts with a troupe of young children singing and dancing in lower-end vaudeville venues. The troupe is managed with an iron fist by Mama Rose who favors one daughter, Baby June, over her other daughter, Baby Louise.
The troupe grows up, but Mama Rose, played with aplomb by Jennifer Warwick, continues with the guise of them being children. Along the way, she meets Herbie, played by Peter Boynton, owner of the Skinner Barn, who acts as an agent for the troupe, reliably getting them gigs and falling in love with Mama Rose. No need to spoil the plot by revealing what happens to Herbie and Rose’s love affair.
June and Louise, played by Emma Ryley and Briege Riley, are great fun together, until June bugs out and elopes, leaving Louise to try and take on her baby-doll character – which flops.
Throughout the play, the vaudeville scene in the country is changing and vaudeville is falling behind talking pictures and burlesque. The show features a trio of burlesque dancers that are well worth the price of admission, in particular Mazeppa, the Strumpet with a Trumpet, who wears Wagnerian operatic breast plates – and more. Mazeppa is played by Kelly Kendall and she dominates the other Vaudeville dancers.
As burlesque supplants vaudeville, Mama Rose loses control over Louise who morphs into Gypsy Rose Lee, the acclaimed performer of legend.
There are many stars in this show, but none shine brighter than Warwick’s Mama Rose. With beautiful costumes and an incredible voice, she carries the show on the strength of her singing and acting.