CURTAIN UP ON “GYPSY

BONNIE GOLDBERG

If you looked up “stage mother” in Webster’s, you’d likely see photo of Mama Rose. When it comes to pushy, aggressive mothers and show business you’ve nailed her: the maternal pit bull, overseeing the careers of her young daughters June and Louise. As the queen of smothering stage mothers, Mama Rose was uniquely suited to her task, advancing the marketing of her two little princesses of song and dance, with the goal of making them stars.

To meet Mama Rose and her darlings of vaudeville, let the book by Arthur Laurents, the music of Jule Styne and the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim entertain you in the colorful musical “Gypsy,” prancing across the spotlights of the Sharon Playhouse until Sunday, July 3.

The incomparable Karen Ziemba is the perfectly pushy parent, the guiding force and iron ruler of her precious progeny. Serbian Fauci andJulia Hemp, portray Baby June and Dainty June respectively who Olivia Santiago and Kyra Kennedy capture Baby Louise and Louise. They will later be known as June Havoc and Gypsy Rose Lee.

Both girls rebel as they grow older, June running off at a young age to marry and Louise abandoning vaudeville for burlesque, establishing herself as a stripper at Minsky’s. Using humor and song as she shed her clothes, Louise established herself as Gypsy Rose Lee and a queen of her genre, with a furl of feathers and flashy costumes.

Rufus Collins does an admirable turn as Herbie, the group’s agent and Rose’s love interest. Richard Stafford takes credits for direction and choreography. “Gypsy” is based on the book written by the star who was born in Seattle, Washington in 1911, performed in movies as an actress and dancer, wrote murder mysteries and called Otto Preminger her boyfriend. Songs like “Some People,” “Small World,” “Let Me EntertainYou,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Together Wherever We Go” and “Rosie’s Turn” propel the plot.

Gypsy runs through July 3. For tickets call (860) 364-7469 (ext. 201 in the summer/ext. 100 in the winter) or go to http://sharonplayhouse.org/theatre/tickets/

Clearly everything’s coming up roses for this delightful summer theater production set in a corner of the state perfect for a scenic afternoon or evening drive.

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CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE