KAREN ZIEMBA AS MAMA ROSE IN "GYPSY"
If you looked up “stage mother” in Webster’s, you’d likely see a photo of Mama Rose. When it comes to pushy, aggressive mothers and show business you’ve nailed her: she’s the maternal pit bull, overseeing the careers of her young daughters June and Louise. As the queen of smothering stage mothers, Mama Rose was uniquely suited to her task, advancing the marketing of her two little princesses of song and dance, with the goal of making them stars.
To meet Mama Rose and her darlings of vaudeville, let the book by Arthur Laurents, the music of Jule Styne and the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim entertain you in the colorful musical “Gypsy,” prancing across the spotlights of the Sharon Playhouse until Sunday, July 3.
The incomparable Karen Ziemba is the perfectly passionate parent, the guiding force and iron ruler of her precious progeny. Serafina Fauci and Julia Hemp portray Baby June and Dainty June respectively while Olivia Santiago and Kyra Kennedy capture Baby Louise and grown up Louise. June and Louise will later be better known as June Havoc and Gypsy Rose Lee.
Both girls rebel as they grow older, June running off at a young age to marry and Louise abandoning vaudeville for burlesque, establishing herself as a stripper at Minsky’s. Using humor and song as she shed her clothes, Louise reinvented herself as Gypsy Rose Lee and a queen of her genre, with a furl of feathers and flashy costumes.
Rufus Collins does an admirable turn as Herbie, the group’s agent and Rose’s love interest. Richard Stafford takes credit for direction and choreography. “Gypsy” is based on the book written by the star who was born in Seattle, Washington in 1911, performed in movies as an actress and dancer, wrote murder mysteries and called Otto Preminger her boyfriend. Songs like "Some People," "Small World," "Let Me EntertainYou," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Together Wherever We Go"and "Rosie's Turn" propel the plot.
For tickets ($15-47), call the Sharon Playhouse, 49 Amenia Road, Sharon at 860-364-7469 or online at www.sharonplayhouse.org. Performances are Thursday at 2 p.m.and 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m.and 5:30 p.m., with extra shows Wednesday, June 29 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 3 at 3 p.m.Clearly everything’s coming up roses for this delightful summer theater production set in a corner of the state at the foot of the Berkshires, perfect for a scenic afternoon or evening drive.