By Carey Purcell
23 Jun 2014
|Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Performances begin July 10 and continue through July 20.
Directed by artistic director Vincent J. Cardinal, the cast also includes Michael James Leslie (The Wiz, Little Shop of Horrors) as Pop, Scott Ripley as Herbie, Alanna Saunders (A Chorus Line) as June, Amandina Altomare (A Chorus Line, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) as Louise, Luke Hamilton as Tulsa, and features Ariana Shore as Tessie Tura, Dale AJ Rose as Mr. Goldstone/Cigar and Steve Hayes as Uncle Jocko/Kringelien.
Additional cast members include Brandon Beaver, Johnny Brantly III, Thomas Brazzle, Madison Coppola, Kristin Devine, Conor Donnally, Cassandra Dupler, Julia Estrada, Mackenzie Leigh Freidmann, Khetanya Henderson, James Jelkin, Sean Jones, Rebecca Mack, Coles Prince, Maria Sheehan, Kyle Schoeplein, Courtney Schoeplein, Annie Tolis, Gianna Yanelli and Madison Young.
Press notes state that no African-American actress had ever starred as Rose in an Equity production of Gypsy with a mixed-race cast.
"We weren't necessarily looking for an actress of color but rather an incredible talent to play this incredibly challenging role," Cardinal said in a statement. "The actor needed to be able to sing and act brilliantly – this is the King Lear of musical theatre. When we found Leslie Uggams, we were thrilled and honored to have such a legendary talent in this legendary role."
"I was stunned," Uggams said in a statement of the offer. "I'd always wanted to play Rose but assumed that I’d never be considered because she was based on a real person. That conversation with Arthur got me thinking. If Rose's creator didn’t have a problem with an African American actress playing her, then why should I? When this opportunity with CT Rep came about, I jumped at it!"
Uggams won a Tony Award for her Broadway debut in Hallelujah, Baby! and has also appeared on Broadway in On Golden Pond, Thoroughly Modern Millie, King Hedley II, Anything Goes, Jerry's Girls, Blues in the Night and Her First Roman. Uggams earned an Emmy for her work on television's "Fantasy" and appeared as Kizzy Reynolds in the award-winning miniseries "Roots."
The production will feature scenic design by Tim Brown, costume design by Lisa Loen, lighting design by Greg Purnell, sound design by Michael Skinner and stage manager Alyssa K. Howard.
Tickets and additional information are available by calling (860) 486-2113 or visiting crt.uconn.edu