Report: Robbins Estate Battles New Gypsy Revival Over Billing

News   Report: Robbins Estate Battles New Gypsy Revival Over Billing How the late Jerome Robbins will be billed in the Playbill for the upcoming production of Gypsy is currently being debated by the Robbins estate and the producers — Robert Fox and Ron Kastner — of the much-awaited revival starring Bernadette Peters.

How the late Jerome Robbins will be billed in the Playbill for the upcoming production of Gypsy is currently being debated by the Robbins estate and the producers — Robert Fox and Ron Kastner — of the much-awaited revival starring Bernadette Peters.

The New York Post reports that the request from the Robbins estate — to have Robbins billed as "director and choreographer of the original Broadway production" — has been denied by the new Gypsy producers and their director, Academy Award winner Sam Mendes. The New York daily says the producers will credit Robbins for original choreography, "only because they are using a couple of his dances." The remainder of the choreography will be supplied by Hairspray's Jerry Mitchell.

A Gypsy production source told the Post, "In terms of marketing and advertising, we're going to get a lot more mileage out of Sam Mendes than Jerome Robbins." The source also said that Gypsy book writer Arthur Laurents warned Mendes not to tamper with the Robbins' staging too much. "He told Sam that if he wanted to put his own stamp on the show, he should do it through Bernadette's performance."

A spokesperson for the Gypsy revival, however, said that no problem exists between the Robbins estate and the new Gypsy producers. "The producers of Gypsy have amicably agreed with the Robbins estate on what Mr. Robbins' billing will be. The implication that there is disrespect for Mr. Robbins is incorrect and hurtful."

The Playbill for the 1974 Angela Lansbury revival stated, "Original N.Y. Production Directed, Choreographed by Jerome Robbins," while the Tyne Daly revival said, "Original Production Directed and Choreographed by Jerome Robbins." Because Robbins did not hold a copyright on Gypsy, his estate may have to settle for whatever billing the new producers deem appropriate. *

Gypsy — starring two-time Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters in the role of Rose — will begin previews at the Shubert Theatre on March 24, 2003, with an official opening scheduled for April 24. Others in the cast include Tammy Blanchard as Louise, Kate Reinders as Dainty June and Kate Buddeke as Mazeppa. John Dossett is currently in negotiations to play Rose's love interest, Herbie. The last Broadway mounting of the famed musical cast "Cagney & Lacey" star Tyne Daly in the role created by Ethel Merman. The 1989 Daly revival won a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical as well as one for its leading lady.