unfairadvantage. In theatrical terms, it can be used to describe the importation ofoutside talent in the hope of drawing a larger-than-normal audience. In bothcases, the hope is that the player/performer will hit it out of the park.
6th Street Playhouse has a ringer in their castof Gypsy, running through Oct. 20, in the person of Kathy Fitzgerald. Asuccessful character actress with featured roles in several Broadway hits (Wicked,The Producers), Ms. Fitzgerald takes on the challenging lead role ofMomma Rose in what many consider to be the greatest American musical.
Momma Rose will stop at nothing to make her daughter “Baby” June(Gigi Bruce-Low) a star, keeping her perpetually young as they cross thecountry with a third-rate vaudeville act. When the grown up “Dainty” June(Melody Payne) tires of the child act and elopes with one of the young men fromthe troupe, Momma Rose turns her sight to frequently dismissed second daughterLouise (Cecilia Brenner, then Carmen Mitchell.) With vaudeville dying, they’rereduced to appearing at a low-rent theatre that turns out to be a burlesquehouse. When the main ‘attraction’ isunable to go on, Momma Rose sees the chance to make Louise a star, if only fora night. The shy and retiring Louise soon becomes Gypsy Rose Lee.
The book by Arthur Laurents is complimented by the classicJule Styne/Stephen Sondheim score that contains such classics as “Let MeEntertain You”, “Together Wherever We Go”, “You Gotta Get a Gimmick”, and“Everything’s Coming Up Roses”.
Director Jared Sakren got a ‘two-fer’ with the casting ofMs. Fitzgerald as she’s joined onstage by her husband Roger Michelson in therole of Herbie, the harried agent who’s hopelessly in love with Rose. He’s quite good and is often the emotionalheart of the show. Carmen Mitchell also shines as the coming-into-her-ownLouise.
Production values are spotty, with the show visually flatuntil late in the second act when bright costuming by Pamela Johnson andlighting by April George elevated the show. The same can be said for Ms.Fitzgerald’s performance.
To return to sports parlance, she spent most of the showhitting singles and doubles and didn’t really get a great at-bat until theshow’s conclusion with “Rose’s Turn”.
It was a solid triple.
‘Gypsy’ runs through October 20 at 6th Street Playhouse in SantaRosa. Thursday through Saturday evening performances are at 7:30pm; there are Saturdayand Sunday matinees at 2pm.
For more information, go to 6thstreetplayhouse.com