Some Enchanted Evenings: The Top Ten Broadway Musical Revivals

By Ben Rimalower
22 Feb 2014

Laura Benanti, Patti LuPone and Boyd Gaines
Photo by Paul Kolnik

Gypsy directed by Arthur Laurents, 2008

Arthur Laurents wrote the book to Gypsy, but he didn't direct the original 1959 production starring Ethel Merman; that was Jerome Robbins. Conventional wisdom has it that Robbins's original Gypsy and both Laurents's 1974 and 1989 revivals, starring Angela Lansbury and Tyne Daly, provided some of the greatest evenings in musical theatre history. Speaking only from my own limited experience, Laurents's 2008 revival holds that honor free and clear. Widely acknowledged as the greatest American musical, Gypsy has no shortage on comedy, drama or top-drawer showtunes, and this revival triumphed in each of those departments. Laurents' production this time around was lean (perhaps a bit too lean) and mean (some might say bitchy), effectively maintaining focus on the story and characters as depicted by a top-to-bottom ideal cast. But the main event of any Gypsy is its Rose, and Patti LuPone, at the remarkable peak of her formidable powers, gave the performance of her career, mining Madame Rose for every ounce of humanity and every spark of theatricality in a tour de force that coaxed and cajoled and climaxed and came back again, ultimately exploding in a daring "Rose's Turn" that was thrilling and chilling to the bone. The next revival of Gypsy will have a tough act to follow.