Geneseo’s Department of Music presented “Gypsy: The Musical” this past weekend from April 5-Sunday April 9 in the Alice Austin Theater.
Under Director Scott Scafidi, choreographer Katie LeSur and music director Don Kot, the student cast amazed audiences as their musical and choreographic talent made for a thrilling production.
“Gypsy” is the story of a pushy stage-mother named Rose—played by communication and musical theater double major junior Sophie Yeomans—who forces her two young daughters, Louise—played by musical theater major junior Jessica Murphy—and June—played by psychology major senior Nicole Eras—into show business.
After being in the business for years, June quits and elopes, leaving Louise—the always-undermined daughter—to carry out her sister’s legacy. After mistakenly booking an appearance at a burlesque house, Louise transforms herself into Gypsy Rose Lee, a famous dancer.
Apart from the main narrative, this performance of “Gypsy” had attributes that touched upon other themes. The musical takes place in the Great Depression era and discusses the collapse of the vaudeville musical genre. Additionally, there were multiple feminist themes that came from the driven female characters.
Rose was persistent no matter how many times she failed and didn’t seem to care about her marriage to Herbie, played by political science and musical theater double major junior Aram Peers.
In addition, Louise started from nothing and grew into an astounding success story, one who loves her job despite its bawdy reputation. In a brilliant scene toward the end of the show, Louise proclaimed, “I am Gypsy Rose Lee and I love her,” illustrating self-love.
Yeomans was excellent in exhibiting Rose’s true determination for her and her children’s future and well-being. Underneath the hard exterior, Yeomans portrayed Rose’s underlying love to achieve her own dreams and wishes—which she was unable to accomplish in her own life.
The finale song, “Rose’s Turn,” was a true exhibition of Yeoman’s talent and Rose’s character. The audience saw Rose’s true desires when Yeomans belted her song and stole the show, as Rose’s name dropped down in big flashing letters.
On a more comical note, “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” with Mazeppa—played by musical theater major sophomore Erica Milliman—Electra—played by communication major sophomore Maria Floriano—and Tessie Tura—played by musical theater major junior Kimberly Cole—was a comical number that showcased the burlesque dancers and their gimmicks.
To highlight these aspects, Electra’s outfit contained flashing lights and Tessie Tura was dressed in a beautiful butterfly costume for “You Gotta Get a Gimmick.” In addition, Mazeppa’s trumpet skills soared in the performance. “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” was a funny scene that introduced the risqué world that Louise was about to enter in a lighthearted way.
After Louise becomes Gypsy Rose Lee, the audience witnesses her rise to fame in “Gypsy Routine.” This consisted of vignettes of her performances across the country in various risqué performances—one actually involving a strip tease at the end, which ended with Murphy wearing nothing but nude underwear in dim lighting.
The choreography also played a crucial role in the success of this production. Whether it was the main ensemble dance routine, “Baby June and Her Newsboys,” or an intimate scene between Louise and her love interest Tulsa—as played by musical theater major freshman Brett Hammes—the choreography was definitely a highlight.
“Baby June and Her Newsboys” appeared throughout the show in different forms, but specifically in the “Farm Sequence.” Here, two actors were dressed in a cow costume and—though it seemed challenging—danced in perfect synchronization with both each other and the other cast members.
On the other hand, “All I Need Is The Girl” with Louise and Tulsa was brilliantly and articulately performed, showcasing many dance styles of the era.
As always, the Department of Music produced a performance that wowed the audience. This production of “Gypsy” is sure to be remembered for many years to come for its incredible choreography and many memorable moments.