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Gypsy

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The Writing of Gypsy

Commentary and writing tips by Noel Katz

Many of the greatest musicals are star vehicles. The writers had the advantage of creating material tailored for a particular talent, and, commercially, there's a built-in audience: many people who want to see the star. Ethel Merman had a compelling persona to go with her powerhouse voice. For many years, she grabbed hold of audiences, and, with considerable charm, practically forced them to love her.

Gypsy takes that as a given. Merman's going to work her magic as usual; you can't stop her. But wouldn't it be interesting if the character did some fairly unlovable things, if we saw that bewitching manipulation put towards unsavory goals? Gypsy is about a stage mother - not a particularly admirable species - and her compulsion to make stars of her children leads from dying vaudeville to big time burlesque. Now, one might think that basic situation would lead us to hate Mama Rose, but we don't; we care about her very much.

And that's part of the creators' mischievous plan: As we watch Rose charm or battle down everyone around her, we're not immune; we're charmed, too. She sings "Some People" in an attempt to borrow money from her father (she eventually steals an item that is only valuable to him and sells it); " Have an Eggroll, Mr. Goldstone" butters up a business contact, and "Small World" is not just a flirtation - she's really trying to get an agent.

But they're not just those things. Many of the songs in Gypsy play with more than one meaning, and that's what makes them so rich, so act-able. "Small World" and "You'll Never Get Away From Me" are love songs on the surface, and seethe with subtexts underneath. That makes them so much more interesting than songs that say, merely, exactly what they seem to say. The ultimate example is "Everything's Coming Up Roses. "We all know it as a bright-and-cheery anthem of encouragement, but, at the end of Gypsy's first act, it's frightening and devastating, exactly the words Herbie and Louise DON'T want to hear.

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DVD

Gypsy (DVD) from Amazon.com 1962 Film version starring Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood. Special features include: Deleted songs: "You'll Never Get Away from Me" (duet version) and "Together Wherever We Go"

Gypsy TV DVDGypsy (DVD) from Amazon.com 1993 television version starring Bette Midler

Cast Recordings

Gypsy Original CastGypsy - A Musical Fable (1959 Original Broadway Cast) from Amazon.com Featuring Ethel Merman and Jack Klugman. Includes bonus material not previously released. Songs include: Overture, Let Me Entertain You, Some People, Small World, Baby June And Her Newsboys, Mr. Goldstone, Little Lamb, You'll Never Get Away From Me, Dainty June And Her Farmboys, If Momma Was Married, All I Need Is The Girl, Everything's Coming Up Roses, Together Wherever We Go, You Gotta Get A Gimmick, Let Me Entertain You, Rose's Turn. Bonus tracks: Some People, Mr. Goldstone, Momma's Talkin' Soft, Nice She Ain't

Gypsy 1973 CastGypsy (1973 Original London Cast) from Amazon.com Starring Angela Landsbury. Songs include: Overture, Some People, Small World, Let Me Entertain You (Montage), Mr. Goldstone, Little Lamb, You'll Never Get Away From Me, If Momma Was Married, All I Need Is The Girl, Everything's Coming Up Roses, Together, You Gotta Get A Gimmick, Let Me Entertain You, and Rose's Turn

Gypsy 1989 CastGypsy (1989 New York Revival) from Amazon.com Starring Tyne Daily. Songs include: Overture, Let Me Entertain You - Christen Tassin/Kristen Mahon, Some People - Tyne Daly, Small World - Tyne Daly/Jonathan Hadary, Baby June And Her Newsboys, Mr. Goldstone, Little Lamb - Crista Moore, You'l Never Get Away From Me - Tyne Daly/Janathan Hadary, Dainty June And Her Farmboys, If Momma Was Married - Crista Moore/Tracy Venner, All I Need Is The Girl - Robert Lambert, Everything's Comming Up Roses - Tyne Daly, Together - tyne Daly/Jonathan Hadary/Crista Moore, You Gotta Have A Gimmick - Jana Robbins/Anna McNeely/Barbara Erwin, The Strip - Gypsy, and Rose's Turn - Tyne Daly

Gypsy 2003 CastGypsy (2003 Broadway Revival Cast) from Amazon.com Starring Bernadette Peters. Songs include: Overture, May We Entertain You, Some People, Small World, Baby June And Her Newsboys, Mr. Goldstone, Little Lamb, You'll Never Get Away From Me, Dainty June And Her Farmboys, Broadway, If Momma Was Married, All I Need Is The Girl, Everything's Coming Up Roses, Entr'Acte, Madame Rose's Toreadorables, Together, Wherever We Go, You Gotta Get A Gimmick, Small World (Reprise), Incidental Music, Gypsy Strip (Let Me Entertain You), Rose's Turn, and Curtain

Sheet Music and Reference

Gypsy (Vocal score) from Amazon.com

Gypsy (Vocal selections) from Musicnotes.com Songs include: All I Need Is the Girl, Some People, Together Wherever We Go, Let Me Entertain You, Small World, Little Lamb, and Everything's Coming Up Roses. Instant digital download sheet music.

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