Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 15, 2023

Review: Goodspeed Opera House, "Gypsy"

Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, CT
May 10 - July 25, 2023
by Suzanne Wells

"Gypsy" is an emotional rollercoaster of song and dance.  Directed by Jenn Thompson and choreographed by Patricia Wilcox, with music direction by Adam Souza, "Gypsy" will make you laugh, fall in love, it will break your heart, and might even scare you.

Set in 1920s–1930s, the audience is transported from the Vaudeville era to the glamour of Burlesque. The scenic backdrop starts off with a series of advertisements that light up like Broadway billboards, establishing the location for each segment as they follow Mamma Rose’s dreams of finagling her daughters, June and Louise, along the road to stardom.

Emily Jewel Hoder plays "Baby June" who grows up to become the adult "Dainty June," played by Laura Sky Herman. Cameron Blake Miller takes on the role of "Baby Louise" and Talia Suskauer portrays the older version.

Every stage manager’s worst fear, Mamma Rose, the lead Judy McLane, is the most opportunistic, overly aggressive stage mother, ever.  Mamma Rose uses her brains, her wiles, and her commanding voice to manage everyone around her, from her two daughters and her fiancĂ©e, to the producers and stagehands. McLane’s execution of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Rose’s Turn” are inspiring, and her energetic performance keeps the audience entranced.

Talia Suskauer has a particularly outstanding achievement as Louise. With a little smoke and one large mirror, Louise comes of age, singing, dancing, and even showing a little skin. However, Suskauer's most prominent characteristic is her expressive face, conveying Louise’s doubts, fears, and loneliness without speaking a word – that’s talent.

One of many highlights, “You Gotta Get a Gimmick,” had the audience rolling with laughter. Performed by Valerie Wright, Romelda Teron Benjamin, and Victoria Huston-Elem, the scene is a humorous, fun-filled introduction to the world of Burlesque.

Philip Hernandez as Herbie, Edward Juvier and Geoffrey Wade as various characters throughout the production, all utilize their comedic and dramatic talents to emphasize Mamma Rose’s tunnel vision in her search for fame. And a special mention for Cha Cha who plays Chowsie, because who doesn’t love a show with a dog!

Because of the setting and subject matter, "Gypsy" is intended for mature audiences.