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Subject: Re: Imelda Staunton in "Gypsy"
From: Michael McPherson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Michael McPherson <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 14 Nov 2016 11:34:27 -0500
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I was fortunate to see Merman in Gypsy twice. Once in previews just before the opening and I was sitting in the next to last row in the balcony. I could hear ever word Merman said or sang. It was a great evening. The second time was when I brought my sister to see it during the run. It was her 16th birthday and we sat in the orchestra. When it was over, I asked her what she thought. She replied “Michael, I wish it was a movie, I would stay for the second show.”
There never was nor will there ever be another Merman.

Michael

Michael J. McPherson
[log in to unmask]




> On Nov 14, 2016, at 11:00 AM, Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> "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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