The Playbill Vault Remembers Tony Award Winner Ethel Merman

By Megan Dekic
16 Jan 2014



On May 21, 1959, the Arthur Laurents-Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim musical Gypsy premiered at the Broadway Theatre. Jerome Robbins directed and choreographed a cast that starred Merman as Rose, Jack Klugman as Herbie and Sandra Church as Louise. Merman brought her signature belt to songs like "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and "Rose's Turn."

On her role as the overbearing stage mother Rose, the New York Times' Brooks Atkinson wrote: "Miss Merman, her pipes resonant and her spirit syncopated, struts and bawls her way through it triumphantly." The show was nominated for eight Tony Awards, including Best Actress in a Musical for Merman, but she lost to another Broadway legend: Mary Martin in The Sound of Music.

Read a Playbill from the original production of Gypsy here.

Click here to read more about Ethel Merman's theatrical history in the Vault.