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Subject: Re: Imelda Staunton in "Gypsy"
From: Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 14 Nov 2016 11:00:05 -0500
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"Gypsy" is The Musical's equivalent of "Norma."  The interpretative
possibilities are endless and the rewards great, but only the qualified
should apply.

Max I'm in your camp about Staunton.  I've seen all the post Merman Rose's
from Lansbury, thru Daley, Peters, and LuPone including Roz Russell and
Bette Middler on film.  Each brought something unique including Peters who
was somewhat against type.  I saw her late in the run and by then she had
honed her interpretation and made the character her own. Another powerhouse
was Nora McLellan at the Shaw Festival a few years ago.

Of all of the Rose's Staunton best caught the arc of the character from
aggressively charming to ferociously lethal - she's even on a high boil
right through the final reconciliation.

No question Merman's got the voice - and the "push" as well as the brass in
that voice goes a long way to defining character without the need for much
interpretation.  I think I've got just about every recording of this show
that's been put out and the best balance between vocal distinction and
bravura characterization would have to be LuPone.  Her supporting cast is
also top notch.  I also have a fondness for Lansbury - she's vocally
smoother and more ladylike  than the average Rose, but she knows how to
build to a deadly sting.  The problem here is the drip, drip of British
enunciation in the choral work - something that was cleaned up in the
British made Staunton version.  Staunton may lack LuPone's or Merman's
unique, unmistakable timbre, but she can vocally fill out the role without
compromise (possibly the most frightening version of "Everything's coming
up Roses...) and that combined with her acting chops makes her Rose one of
the best.

On Sun, Nov 13, 2016 at 11:03 PM, Max D. Winter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Ed Rosen wrote:
>
> "I watched Gypsy on PBS and agree with Donald. Of course I was blessed in
> having seen the original with Merman 3 times in 1959-60. It was like night
> and day."
>
> Well, I guess I will just be the minority opinion on this List re
> Staunton's Mama Rose.
>
> And no, I didn't see Ethel Merman in "Gypsy."  On the other hand, YOU
> never saw Jeritza
> and Lauri-Volpi, or Turner and Martinelli, in "Turandot," like I did.  If
> you had, you would
> have realized that Nilsson and Corelli were very small beer indeed.  (And
> if you doubt that I
> saw them, you should know that I have Elina Makropoulos' formula.  I also
> heard Caruso's
> Canio, Fremstad's Isolde, Tamagno's Otello, and Welitsch's Salome, in
> comparison to whom
> all others in those roles are a joke.)
>
> For the record (and for Donald Kane), I DID see Bette Middler (on TV 1993)
> as Rose, as well
> as (live) Tyne Daley (1989) and Bernadette Peters (2003).  (I did not see
> Patti Lupone,
> unfortunately.)  They were all great.  Staunton was, too. She is not as
> great a singer as
> those other ladies were/are, but she is a great actress, a riveting
> performer, and her singing
> was just fine.  She made the part work for her and she dominated the
> production, as any
> Mama Rose must.  I loved her harder-edged take on the character, whom I
> have always
> viewed as a kind of monster, albeit at the end a sympathetic, even
> pathetic, one.  Her voice
> was of a piece with her portrayal: hard-edged and, yes, shouty at times.
> She made one
> very uneasy at the thought of having Rose as a mother.  That is a totally
> valid approach,
> although it certainly will not be to all tastes.    I repeat, it was a
> great performance.
>
> MDW
>
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