McArdle will play the infamous stage mother in a production in Texas for the Bay Area Houston Ballet & Theatre, June 15-20. Jason Eagan, one of the producers for Manhattan's Ars Nova Theater, will direct the musical, which will feature choreography by Ben Hartley.
McArdle told Playbill On-Line, "I've always wanted to play [Rose]. Besides Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy would probably have to be my favorite score ever. I'm so excited I can't stand it. I'm scared, but I'm really excited!" The actress with the clear, powerful alto says that she almost appeared in the Angela Lansbury production nearly 30 years ago: "When Angela Lansbury did Gypsy in the early seventies, I got hired as young Louise, but my parents wouldn't let me go on tour, and I was very upset about that."
A long-time fan of the Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim-Arthur Laurents musical, McArdle has seen three different Broadway Roses. "I saw Angela Lansbury and I loved it. And, I saw the Tyne Daly revival and I saw Bernadette. I always love Bernadette. I was blown away for different reasons with all the performances. I saw her closing night, and Tyne Daly had no voice. I couldn't imagine her doing that role, [but] I just thought she was amazing. . . The concept [with Bernadette Peters] really does make a lot of sense because the tragedy in it is that you can see that she's the one who had the talent. The fact that it didn't happen for her and the fact that the kid she mistreated turns out exactly like her — you can't move."
In the current production of Gypsy, director Sam Mendes has Rose observe several of the show-within-a-show scenes featuring her young daughters. "That was so funny for me because my mother and my Aunt Joan were doing that all the time," says McArdle. "And when my daughter [Alexis Kalehoff] went into Les Miz, she came out of the theatre crying one day and said, 'You were mouthing the words and I was doing it. Don't ever do that again!' She saw me doing that, and I was like, 'Oh my God, we're all the same!'" McArdle adds, "You just do that when it's your kid, but [my mother] was not a stage mother like Rose. She was quite the opposite. But I've seen plenty [like Rose], and I can drawn on them for this production."
Gypsy features a score by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents. The original Broadway production cast Ethel Merman as Rose; subsequent productions have starred Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, and, currently at the Shubert Theatre, two-time Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters. Andrea McArdle made her Broadway debut in the original 1977 production of Annie for which she received a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. Her other Main Stem credits include Les Misérables, Starlight Express, Beauty and the Beast and State Fair.
Tickets for the Bay Area Houston Ballet & Theatre's Gypsy may be purchased by calling (281) 480-1617. For more information visit www.bahbt.org.