Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 18, 2011


Theater Guild of Hampden
Hampden Country Club, Hampden, MA
through March 26, 2011
by Vickie Phillips

Dinner Theatre is back! (at the Hampden Country Club) and the Theater Guild of Hampden's Artistic Director Mark Giza had his life long theatrical dream realized with the opening night performance of "Gypsy."

Thirty-nine cast members, backed by five musicians as well as a most amazing tech crew, dance, and sing their way into the proverbial hearts of a full house audience. Choreography by Kathleen Delaney wins the prize in this production for taking advantage of the limited space of the theatre setting with some real toe-tapping winners. Most especially, Tulsa (PJ Adzima) with his presentation of "All I Need Is The Girl," and the ever show-stopping "You Gotta Have A Gimmic" (Dianne Fautuex, Tracey Hebert, Christina Arruda) playing Tesse Tura, Mazeppa and Electra are absolutely two 5-Star Moments. Music Director Tom Slowick and his band give solid musical backing. Other highlights are the heartfelt "Little Lamo," "If Mama Got Married," and "I Love You Mr. Goldstone."

Based on the memoirs of famous (non) stripper Gypsy Rose Lee in the days of Vaudeville, with music by Jule Styne, book by Arthur Laurents and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the show is a tour de force for talent. The mere survival of Baby June (Jessie Smith) and Baby Louise (Molly Finegan) to their grown-up counterparts (Ally Reardon and Kiernan Rushford) against Mama Rose (Debi Sali) and Herbie (Brad Shepard) is amazing.  Reardon and Rushford give strong performances, showing commitment to the characters by not going over the top in their roles. Rushford is especially creative in allowing her layers to slowly unfold, which makes her second act transformation to Gypsy Rose Lee astounding. Her acting transitions prevailed. All the quick scene changes were enhanced by the wonderful costuming for Gypsy's famous "curtain coverings" by Mindy Meeker and Louise Gaito.

Opening night problems with sound balance and feedback were apparent throughout, undoubtedly to be solved for the remaining performances. A buffet dinner starting at 6:30pm, make the evening's entertainment true dinner theatre.  Director Mark Giza along with the musicians, cast, and crew have earn their gold stars for "Gypsy."