Nashville Arts Critic Review: Studio Tenn Has Certainly Got a Spectacular GYPSY

By Evans Donnell | Nashville Arts Critic

Ya either got it or ya ain’t, and Studio Tenn certainly has “Gypsy”: From Seattle to New York, from the 1920s to the 1940s and from masterful overture to majestic “Rose’s Turn” finale, the greatest American book musical from that form’s golden age is currently on spectacular display in The Factory at Franklin’s Jamison Hall.

The inspiration of Gypsy Rose Lee’s memoirs and the genius of Arthur Laurents (book), Jule Styne (music) and a young Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) coupled with Jerome Robbins as director and choreographer created the platform for Ethel Merman (Rose), Sandra Church (Louise), Jack Klugman (Herbie) and their castmates to create a Broadway show for the ages in 1959. Since then there have been several revivals on the Great White Way and elsewhere; I’ve been fortunate enough to see Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone’s unique takes on Rose in New York (as well as Rosalind Russell‘s 1962 film portrayal many years after its release and Bette Midler‘s 1993 TV turn the first time it was broadcast), and was among those in Nashville treated to a very powerful performance when Ginger Newman played the mother of all stage mothers for Larry Keeton Theatre in 2013. (Oh to see Imelda Staunton in London now – but that’s another dream for another day.)

As anyone who’s seen the show knows it may be called “Gypsy” but it centers on Rose, and the latter part calls for every ounce of an actor’s talents and energy; do it right and they basically have to mop you off the floor after curtain call. I bet the mops are getting used after every show because Nan Gurley pours everything into a Rose as good as any I’ve ever seen...READ MORE