New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse isn't the only theatre setting its sights on Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim's Gypsy. Even before Paper Mill's fall production with Betty Buckley and Deborah Gibson, Utah's Sundance Institute has been offering the classic musical, featuring cabaret singer and Broadway actress (Sunset Boulevard), Karen Mason as Mama Rose.
Mason appeared Off-Broadway in Carnival and recently won a Daytime Emmy for the song "Hold Me," a tune by her late partner Brian Lasser that Mason sang on her Zevely Records CD, "Better Days." Mason made her Carnegie Hall debut this spring with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops Orchestra in an evening called "The Broadway Songbook with Karen Mason."
Running at Sundance June 24-Aug. 29, Gypsy loosely adapts the story of June Havoc and Gypsy Rose Lee, dragged by their mom through the vaudeville circuit in search of stardom. Songs include "Some People," "Little Lamb," "You'll Never Get Away From Me" and the monumental "Rose's Turn."
Recent Mama Roses have included Tyne Daly on Broadway, Alen Robertson in Chicago, and Jo Ann Worley in Pittsburgh. The role is most closely identified with Ethel Merman, though Angela Lansbury's performance in the Broadway revival received equally laudatory reviews.
Amy Barrus plays Louise in the UT Gypsy -- she's the one who grows up to be Miss Gypsy Rose Lee. For tickets and information on Gypsy at Sundance's Eccles Stage (outdoors) call (801) 225 4100. Last season's musical at Sundance was Meredith Willson's The Music Man.
-- By David Lefkowitz