I'm Just a Broadway Baby
AFTER ONLY 24 MORE PERFORMANCES, GYPSY IS HISTORY.
That, my friend, is the news of the day, as reported right here in the New York Times. Or at least in an ad in the Times theater directory.
Gypsy, pardon if I insult your musical intelligence, is a classic of American musical theater. A landmark. It's on Broadway in yet another revival, this time starring Patti Lupone as Mama Rose, a part she was born to play. Despite good reviews --Lupone won the Tony Award for Best Actress-- and good houses, its curtain is getting ready to drop. The shitty economy has hit Broadway, too. In the post-holiday slump, Broadway has traditionally been known to cull the herd of its weaker stock, but this year even successful shows, take Spring Awakening and Gypsy, are closing.
The ad's headline is set in the type size usually reserved for presidential election results and is positioned above a photo of the aforementioned Ms. Diva Lupone, arms akimbo in a classic Mama Rose pose. The rest of the ad:
"Years from now, theatergoers will be divided into two groups: those who saw these legendary performances in this musical masterpiece and those who didn't. Final Performance January 11."
This urgent tone is usually found only on placards announcing "The end is near, get right with God." It sounds Biblical. On top of begging for exclamation points, it's misleading: Gypsy will never be history. Perhaps this version, but never Gypsy itself. Mama Rose has been played by the best: Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Patti Lupone. Okay, there was Tyne Daly, too, but we'll keep that a family secret. My take is that they can close a Gypsy, but never the Gypsy.
(As an aside, one summer at the beach, the guys in the house next to us blared Gypsy nonstop for the week. A friend imagined them packing: "Sunscreen, check. Beach chairs, check. Gypsy soundtrack, check. No, darling, the Merman, not the Lansbury.")
Why this post? Our blog is supposed to poke holes in the traditional gay/straight stereotypes. But, once again, I find myself reinforcing the stereotype in our "he said/he said" dialogue. It's like a sand trap. Stereotype or no stereotype, this gay guy wants to be on the right side of the wheat and chaff of "those who saw. . . and those who didn't." Despite being financially wiped out by Christmas, I'm sorely tempted to spring for the ticket, hop the train, and see Ms. Lupone take her Mama Rose turn. I bet it'd be great. A real memory. Gay, huh?
I could forgoe it; I've seen Patti Lupone before. Yep, this is where it gets even gayer. I will now present and confess, in its glory, the list of Broadway divas I have seen.
--Patti Lupone, twice in concert, once in performance. So, check, check, and check.
--Betty Buckley, check, check
--Victoria Clark, check, check
--Barbara Cook, check, check, check, check.
--And, and. . . wait for it. . . Eartha Kitt, who was a mere one zillion years old at the time.
If I win that lottery for two tickets for Liza Minneli at the Palace, I'm taking you with me. Taking you to Banana Republic for a tune up first, but taking you with me.
I'm stuck in the love/hate relationship we all have with living in our stereotypes. I don't want to be a caricature, but I don't want to give up something that brings me pleasure even if it's a stereotype. I don't really like Gypsy that much, but it's the experience.
Off to log onto Ticketcharge to see how much this could cost me.
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