By Ann McCreary
With 15 musical numbers, original choreography, colorful costuming and a cast of thousands — well, about 30 anyway — the Methow Valley Theater’s production of Gypsy opens Friday (March 20) at the Methow Valley Community Center.
Based on the memoirs of the famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, Gypsy takes place in the waning days of vaudeville and tells the story of a mother, Rose, and her unrelenting quest to make her two daughters stars of the vaudeville circuit.
“It’s really about Rose, the ultimate backstage mother who pushes her daughters through vaudeville until it’s dead,” said Nadine Van Hees, who directs Gypsy.
“It has a lot of humor and a little drama. I’d call it a musical comedy,” Van Hees said.
Dana Stromberger plays the demanding lead role of Rose, and is in almost every scene, Van Hees said.
“She is up to the task. She has a lot of soliloquies. She makes me cry, that’s how much I love the show,” Van Hees said.
One of the daughters, June, finally tires of her domineering mother and endless vaudeville touring and runs away, leaving Rose to push on with her remaining daughter, Louise.
When their second-rate act is booked into a burlesque show, Louise discovers her calling as a striptease artist, eventually taking the name Gypsy Rose Lee, and finally gains the fame her mother always sought.
The role of Gypsy, played by Lillian O’Rorke, “is a lot of fun,” Van Hees said. “She gets to make some pretty impressive transitions and fun costume changes.”
Among the 15 musical numbers, choreographed by Jody Love, is a burlesque performance “which is a real show-stopper,” Van Hees said. “We’re talking the ranky days of vaudeville and burlesque. It’s entertaining but it’s never offensive … with a lot of curly blonds.”
The cast ranges in age from 5 to 85, and members have been rehearsing since January, Van Hees said.
Gypsy will be performed March 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 at 7 p.m., and March 22 and 29 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $15 at the door or front row seats are available for $20. Tickets may be purchased in advance at Methow Valley Chiropractic in Twisp. Family discounts are also available at three tickets for $40 or four tickets for $50.