In a note in the Playbill for the annual Gypsy of the Year Competition (Dec. 17 and 18 at the New Amsterdam) — which salutes the original Broadway production of West Side Story — Laurents writes, "I'm sorry I can't be with you all today. Unfortunately, I have a meeting and it's too late to change. I think everyone will be the winner and if you want a message from me, it's this: I will be directing a production of West Side Story for Broadway next year that will be radically different from any production ever done and contemporary to boot. How? Come see the show.
"There — that's a tease that should sell a few tickets. Meantime, see Gypsy at the St. James beginning in March. Shameless but why not?"
As previously reported on Playbill.com, after a limited engagement this past summer at City Center — the inaugural production of the Encores! Summer Stars series — the acclaimed mounting of Gypsy starring LuPone will arrive on Broadway in 2008. According to a casting notice, the classic musical will open March 27, 2008. Rehearsals will begin Jan. 28, 2008.
Gypsy co-creator Laurents, who helmed the City Center run, will direct on Broadway as well. The casting notice says that the entire cast of the Encores! production have been offered the chance to repeat their roles on Broadway, but only LuPone has currently been cast. Richard Frankel Productions is producing.
The creative team will also include Patrick Vaccariello (music director) and Bonnie Walker (reproducing Jerome Robbins' original choreography). The Encores! Summer Stars production of Gypsy played its final performance at City Center July 29. The limited run began previews July 9 with an official opening July 14.
Directed by Laurents, who wrote the book to what is considered one of the finest American musicals, the cast also boasted Boyd Gaines as Herbie, Laura Benanti as Louise, Leigh Ann Larkin as Dainty June, Tony Yazbeck as Tulsa, Alison Fraser as Tessie Tura, Nancy Opel as Mazeppa/Miss Cratchitt, Marilyn Caskey as Electra, Sami Gayle as Baby June, Emma Rowley as Baby Louise, Jim Bracchita as Uncle Jocko/Pastey, Bill Bateman as George/Mr. Goldstone/Bougeron-Cochon, Bill Raymond as Pop/Cigar and Brian Reddy as Weber/Phil.
Gypsy features a score by Jule Styne (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and a book by Arthur Laurents. The musical bowed on Broadway in May 1959 at the Broadway Theatre, playing 702 performances before closing at the Imperial Theatre, where it later transferred, on March 25, 1961. Ethel Merman created the role of Rose in the original production; subsequent Broadway Roses include Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly and Bernadette Peters. Merman and Peters were Tony-nominated for their performances; Lansbury and Daly won the coveted award.
A Tony Award winner for her work in Evita, Patti LuPone also earned an Olivier Award for her performances in the West End productions of Les Misérables and The Cradle Will Rock. Her other theatrical credits include Sunset Boulevard, Anything Goes, Oliver!, Working, The Old Neighborhood, Master Class and Pal Joey. LuPone also headlined two solo Broadway concerts, Patti LuPone On Broadway and Matters of the Heart, and received glowing notices for her performance as Mrs. Lovett in the Lincoln Center concert version of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and a Tony nomination for her performance in the recent revival of that Sondheim work. She was seen in the Kennedy Center's staging of Marc Blitzstein's Regina and recently joined Audra McDonald for Los Angeles Opera's production of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Her screen and recording credits are numerous.
The St. James Theatre, which is currently the home of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, is located in Manhattan at 246 West 44th Street.