Gypsy, a classic 1959 American musical, focuses on the memoirs of a striptease artist, Gypsy Rose Lee, and her mother, who is often seen as the ultimate “backstage mother.”
The classic show follows the dreams and efforts of Rose to raise two daughters to perform onstage and casts an affectionate eye on the hardships of show business life. The character of Louise is based on Lee, and the character of June is based on Lee’s sister, the actress June Havoc.
Thank you to the Cappies Critics who wrote a review about our show! The following two critics were chosen to be published in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Grace Willey – Unionville High School
“Everything’s Coming Up Roses” for Harriton High School’s recent production of Gypsy. With superb vocals, hilarious characters, and professional choreography, the show “entertained” audiences of all ages.
With music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Gypsy has been a Broadway classic for decades. The production debuted in 1959, and it is loosely based on the story of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous Burlesque dancer. It follows the story of Rose, a mother determined to make her daughters famous. Rose lives vicariously through her two daughters, June and Louise, and tries to experience a life she never had.
Gypsy’s ensemble was relatively small, but they brought tremendous energy to the stage. The dance numbers, choreographed by Vidhi Dwivedi, Blandine Heron, and Adelle Wilkin, were technically sound and well developed. All of the characters, no matter how small their role was, brought something unique to the show.
Leading the cast of characters was Allegra Greenawalt (Rose). With powerhouse vocals and a commitment to her character, Greenawalt was the backbone of the production. Along with her crazy stage mom, Anna Fleming (Gypsy Rose Lee) transitioned flawlessly from an awkward and quiet teenager to a sophisticated woman when she becomes Gypsy Rose Lee. Adding similar talent to the show, Jon Zamsky (Herbie) was perfectly loveable and committed, and he really stood out in “Small World”. Completing the dysfunctional quartet, Analyn Sil (June) was a true triple threat with entertaining dance numbers, strong vocals, and a sweet, innocent character.
Some notable features roles included those of Nina Gold (Tessie Tura), Jacqueline Kelly (Mazeppa) and Harleigh Myerovich (Electra). The three strippers were comical, entertaining, and they made “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” a show stopping number. Other standout performances were had by Jamie Eisner (Baby June) and Maddie Lefkowski (Baby Louise). The two contrasted each other perfectly and were excellent in “May We Entertain You”. Similarly, Benjamin Newman (Tulsa) gave a great performance of “All I Need Is The Girl”, which really lifted up the show at the end of act one.
For all the success of the cast, the crew must also be commended. Led by stage managers Hannah Goldman and Willow Kaminski, the stage crew was professional and accomplished quick set changes with ease. The costumes designed by Miranda Brennan and Lily Strailey were also well done and perfectly appropriate to the show. The few sound mishaps were recovered quickly and were completely forgivable given the difficulty of the show and the size of the cast.
Overall, Gypsy was exactly what it should be: hilarious, tragic, and entertaining to watch. Between the talented cast and the professional crew, the show was a huge success.
Kyle Mackey – Upper Moreland High School
Gypsy at Harriton High School was a show that makes you say “Holy cow!” after seeing it, with its strong vocals and impressive student leadership. From colorful costumes to dynamic dancing, the production left a powerful impression.
The musical originated in 1959 and is loosely based on the story of the mother of Gypsy Rose Lee, a famous striptease artist. Rose, a several times divorced mother of two kids, wanted nothing more than to make her children into stars. She travels the country with her two daughters who perform the same child act, despite their aging. The musical follows their upbringing as they grow from toddlers into young women.
Harriton’s production of Gypsy was a wonderful rendition of the classic musical, and the great passion of the students was clear. Basically all of the technical aspects of the show, from costuming to lights, as well as a full student orchestra, were run by students, which truly encapsulates the passion that high school theatre should stoke.
Rose, the bold and driven mother of the two girls, was superbly played by Allegra Greenawalt, who captured the snappy and hard-shelled character well. However, she also displayed great diction and vocal range in songs like “Some People” and “You’ll Never Get Away From Me”. Her counterpart, the intrepid Herbie, was nicely played by Jon Zamsky, skillfully carrying the character’s emotional struggle throughout the entire show.
There were also a number of skilled supporting actors, like Louise played by Anna Fleming. Fleming’s chemistry with her family – Rose, Herbie, and June – on the stage was amazing, gluing the family together. The burlesque ensemble was also a highlight of the show, featuring Tessie Tura, Mazeppa, and Electra played by Nina Gold, Jacqueline Kelly, and Harleigh Myerovich respectively. Additionally, nearly all the characters performed their choreography well, both June and Baby June (Analyn Sil and Jamie Eisner) showed exceptional talent in their dancing.
The students of the Harriton Theater Company took on the challenge of leading all of the technical aspects of the musical, and it had some great results. Particularly amazing were the costumes, headed by Miranda Brennan and Lily Strailey. The costumes of the strippers were especially noteworthy, featuring one that lit up like Christmas and another with silky butterfly wings. Although the sound tech of the show had a couple of bumps along the road, the powerful projection of the vocalists powered through it and their voices were still heard even in the back of the theater. Students even wrote their show’s choreography, a feat rarely matched in high school theater.
Gypsy was truly a show to remember with its fantastic execution by Harriton High School. After seeing that musical, “I Had a Dream” like Rose to see something created with so much passion again.