Review: ‘Gypsy’ Presented by Bay Area Musicals (***1/2)

by Charles Kruger

Ariela Morgenstern as Rose and Jade Shojaee as Gypsy Sose Lee in Bay Area Musicals’ production of “Gypsy.” Photo Credit: Ben Krantz Studio.
Reviewed by a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.

Just about everybody agrees that “Gypsy” is the greatest American musical of its period, and maybe of all periods. And the character of the ultimate stage mother, “Rose,” is considered one of the greatest roles in the American theatre, musical or otherwise. Given a reasonably conscientious effort, it can’t fail to entertain. Fortunately for us, Bay Area Musical’s show is a good deal more than reasonably conscientious and is well worth taking in.

What one hopes for most in any production of “Gypsy” is a Rose performed by a singing actress with real Broadway chops. Anything less won’t do. And, happily, Ariela Morgenstern has got it, and we know we’re in good hands the moment she bursts out with, “I had a dream, Papa!”

Such a performance alone would be worth the price of a ticket, but the supporting company is superb. As Baby Louise and Baby June, middle schoolers Chloe Fong and Emma Berman are charming and completely professional. Berman, in particular, shows the benefit of wide experience for such a young actress, and might well be described as a prodigy.

Also delightful is DC Scarpelli as Herbie. Although he is cast against type, the rapport between he and Morgenstern as Rose is electric, and his characterization is finely crafted. He is chilling when he finally stands up to Rose.

As the grown-up Louise, stripper headliner Gypsy Rose Lee, Jade Shojaee is almost uncanny in the accuracy of her impersonation. Several of Gypsy’s original performances survive on film, and Jade Shojaee captures the original Gypsy’s wit, grace, and magnetism.

The rest of the company is thoroughly professional. Worth calling out is Olivia Cabera who makes the most of her opportunity to shine as the unforgettable Miss Mazeppa.

This “Gypsy” is a lovely way to kick off the Holiday season with a bang.

“Gypsy” continues at the Alcazar Theater through December 8, 2019. For further information, click here.


Rating: ***1/2 (For an explanation of TheatreStorm’s rating scale, click here.)

PLEASE READ THIS (click here)


“Gypsy” by Authur Laurents, suggested by memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee. Music by Jule Styne. Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Director & Choreographer: Matthew McCoy. Music Director: Jon Gallo. Scenic Designer: Matthew McCoy. Costume Designer: Brooke Jennings. Lighting Designer: Matthew McCoy. Sound Designer: Anton Hedman. 

Cast:

Rose: Ariela Morgenstern. Louise: jade Shojaee. June: Tia Konsur. HErbie: DC Scarpelli. Baby June: Emma Berman. Baby Louise: Chloe Fong. Tulsa: Jean-Paul Jones. Tessie Tura/Miss Cratchitt: Elaine Jennings. Mazeppa: Olivia Cabera. Electra: Glenna Murillo. Uncloe Jocko/Mr. Goldstone/Cigar: Mark Robinson. Weber/Postey: Ernie Tovar. Newsboy: Amber Lee Wunderlich. Newsboy: Dakota Colussi. Newsboy: Juan Castro. Kansas/Ensemble: Benjamin Nguyen. L.A./Ensemble: Phillip Leyva. Agnes/Ensemble: Cassie Grilley. GeraldineEnsemble: April Deutschle. Marjorie May/Ensemble: Veronica Ortiz. Chowsie: Teddy Bear McNguyen.

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