Industry readings of Doug DeVita's Fable. A Fable About A Musical Fable—described as the story of the creation of Gypsy from the viewpoint of a 97-year-old June Havoc—will be presented May 26 at 5 PM and May 27 at 3 PM at New York's Open Jar Studios.
Directed by Richard Sabellico, the cast will feature Joy Franz (Into the Woods) as the older June, Haley Swindal (Chicago) as the middle-aged June, Jana Robbins (The Tale of the Allergist's Wife) as Rose Hovick/Ethel Merman, David Sabella (Chicago) as Jerome Robbins, Emilee Dupré (Chaplin) as Gypsy Rose Lee, and Hans Friedrich as Arthur Laurents. Assistant director Jason Brantman will read stage directions.
Actor and director June Havoc, a 1964 Best Director Tony nominee for her play Marathon '33, was famously ambivalent about the hit musical Gypsy, which her sister, the burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee, referred to as her legacy. In Fable—a 2021 Eugene O'Neill semi-finalist—the sisters' loyalty to each other is tested in a mounting battle that takes place in rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms, onstage, backstage, and all in the memory of the aging Havoc as she faces her imminent death, still battling with fiction and truth in order to keep her own legacy alive.
"I never met June Havoc, but I did speak to her many times when she'd call Abingdon Theatre Company, where I worked as marketing director," shares DeVita. "One morning June called, and oh, was she in a mood. An(other) upcoming revival of Gypsy had her quite stressed, and she was going to talk to anyone who'd answered the phone. Fable. A Fable About A Musical Fable was born out of that conversation. And while I would never lay claim to any truth-telling in this play—it is, after all entitled Fable—I cannot deny that June, like her mother and her sister, was a bit of a fable spinner herself. But I hope I at least shine a spotlight to her side of the story, and entertain you at the same time."
DeVita is also the author of Just a Rumor, Phillie’s Trilogy, Goddess of the Hunt, Upper Division, and The Fierce Urgency of Now. A member of the Dramatists Guild, his work has been published by Next Stage Press and Smith & Kraus.
Gypsy—the classic showbiz tale of a domineering mother and a wallflower who becomes the country's best-known burlesque artist—features a score by Jule Styne (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and a book by Arthur Laurents. The musical—with Ethel Merman as Rose—bowed on Broadway in May 1959 at the Broadway Theatre, playing 702 performances. Subsequent Broadway revivals have featured Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters, and Patti LuPone as Rose. A 1962 film featured Rosalind Russell as Rose with Natalie Wood as Gypsy Rose Lee; a 1993 TV version cast Bette Midler in the lead role.
Industry members interested in attending one of the readings should contact Jay Michaels at [email protected].