Bette Midler, Ethel Merman, Tyne Daly, Patti Lupone, Liza Minelli, Rosalind Russell and Bernadette Peters have all channeled the persona of Rose Hovick, the archetypal stage mother around whom the musical Gypsy is centered.
Gypsy based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee (nee Louise Hovick), the eldest of Rose's two daughters. Rose (Kathy Halenda) spends her daughters' entire lives trying desperately to live out her own dream by pushing youngest daughter June (Claire Norden as Baby June; Ruby Lewis as June) into the spotlight. Louise (Kristina Lachaga as Baby Louise; Missy Dowse as Louise) is relegated to second banana until June escapes her mother's clutches by eloping.
With no one else to focus her energy on, she turns to Louise to fulfill the fantasy, all the while pushing those she loves farther and farther away. And when Louise does truly become a star, albeit in burlesque, Rose struggles with feelings of uselessness and jealousy.
The performance last night at the Morrison Center stayed true to this tale which has been told so many times before, adding its own life to the story. Halenda's portrayal of Rose seemed a well-fitting addition to her repertoire. According to her bio, Halenda has played the title roles in Mame, Hello Dolly and Annie Get Your Gun and boasts over 180 productions to her name. Her strong clear voice provided Rose with a, well, strong clear voice but after having seen other interpretations of Gypsy and other strong women who've played the bittersweet character, the production was left wanting a bit for bigness. Dowse and Lewis approached a theatrical high with their harmonies in "If Momma Was Married," but the most over-the-top and yet satisfying performances came from Mazeppa, Electra and Tessie Tura (Rachel Abrams, Maria Egler and Loriann Freda respectively), the burlesque dancers who give Louise a smart bit of advice in the number "You Gotta Get a Gimmick."
Gypsy Rose Lee's story is an interesting one and seeing it come to life—, even if it's not larger-than—on stage, is an opportunity best not missed. And you have just one more to catch it.
Gypsy, Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m. $29-$49. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, 2201 Cesar Chavez Ln., Boise, 208-426-1609, mc.boisestate.edu.