McArdle is playing the infamous stage mother in a production in Texas for the Bay Area Houston Ballet & Theatre. Jason Eagan, one of the producers for Manhattan's Ars Nova Theater, directs the musical, which features choreography by Ben Hartley.
McArdle will play opposite the Herbie of James Huston. Others in the cast include Vanessa Handrick, Michael Tapley, Jamison Stern, Kate Gersten, Alison Jones and Leo Ash Evens. Traci Klainer is the production's lighting designer with scenic design by Lauren Helpern.
In a recent interview 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."
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, most recently 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 are priced at $30 and may be purchased by calling (281) 480-1617. For more information visit www.bahbt.org.