I received word this morning from the press representative for the upcoming production of Gypsy at the Paper Mill Playhouse that Betty Buckley is a definite for the role of Mama Rose. Gypsy , which features a score by Jule Styne (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and a book by Arthur Laurents, originally opened on Broadway in 1959 starring the legendary Ethel Merman. Subsequent Broadway revivals have featured Angela Lansbury and Tyne Daly as Rose, and both actresses received Tonys for their performances.
Gypsy will open the 1998-99 season at the Paper Mill Playhouse, located in Millburn, New Jersey, and recent home to Stephen Sondheim's Follies. Buckley enthusiasts will recall that the Tony-winning actress starred as Rose in a 1992 production at the Southern Arizona Light Opera Company, but has never performed the role in the Metropolitan area. Buckley did, however, give her fans a glimpse of her performance with a thrilling rendition of "Rose's Turn" two seasons ago during her Carnegie Hall concert.
The Paper Mill production is scheduled to begin rehearsals Thursday, Aug.20 under Mark (When Pigs Fly) Waldrop's direction. Liza Gennaro, who choreographed the acclaimed Broadway revival of The Most Happy Fella, is set to choreograph here as well, and previews will begin on September 9. The official opening date is scheduled for Sept. 13, and the show will run through Oct. 25.
It should be a thrilling experience to watch Buckley portray one of the most demanding roles in the musical theatre canon. BB will also get the chance to sing such classics as "Some People," "You'll Never Get Away from Me," "Small World," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Wherever We Go" and, of course, "Rose's Turn." Pop star and the recent Belle of Beauty and the Beast, Deborah Gibson, has also joined the cast as Gypsy Rose Lee.
Tickets, which range from $25 to $55, are available by calling (973) 376 4343, and the Gypsy performance schedule follows: Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 7:30 PM, and matinees Thursday (2 PM), Saturday (2:30 PM) and Sunday (2 PM).