The semi-biographical 1959 musical Gypsy is one of Stephen Sondheim’s most popular collaborations, featuring such enduring songs as “Everything’s Coming up Roses” and “Together Wherever We Go.” The story, set in the 1920s and ’30s, is about a “stage mom” who vicariously lives out her dreams by shackling her two daughters to showbiz. The second act is the most compelling, when Rose thrusts her eldest daughter, Louise, into burlesque, and the story gets into the grit of mother-daughter dynamics.
Footlite Musicals’ current production, under the direction of Tim Spradlin and vocal director Jo Read Trakimas, suffered from some opening-night glitches, but hopefully, these will be resolved as the run continues. The production is carried by Susan Boilek Smith as Mama Rose and Elise Annette Delap as Louise.
Boilek Smith is a powerhouse on stage, not only with her stunning vocals but her portrayal of a fierce woman who won’t take no for an answer. Her rendition of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” brings the house down. Delap is her foil, maintaining her sweet-natured, accommodating demeanor compared to her smothering mother. While her vocals are also strong, her delivery reflects Louise’s gentle charm in the face of her mother’s steamroller approach. Her vocals are crystal clear and communicate Louise’s optimistic view of life.
Also of note is Rich Baker as the girls’ manager/Rose’s love interest; his is a loveable underdog. Though only spotlighted briefly as Tulsa, one of the background singers/dancers for the girls’ act, Noah Nordman deserves mention for his excellent performance of “All I Need Is the Girl.”