First, some good news: August 31st, I will be presenting my lecture, Streamline Superman and the Deco Dark Knight at the Queen Mary Art Deco Festival in Long Beach. I’m honored and elated to take part. Since this is the first (of many, I hope), the past month, and this week in particular, have been a whirlwind of researching, slide making, video editing, practice lecturing to some very patient friends, and writing and re-writing notes packed with insights and witty anecdotes to make this lecture the best it can possibly be. In order to get through this exciting-but-terrifying-but-happy-but-stressful time, I tinkered with a side project that I ended up enjoying so much, I decided to share it with you.
As a giant Broadway geek with Spotify access, I started putting together Super Albums of my favorite performances from various musical/movie revivals. And since I collect divas the way other people collect stamps, I started with the most diva-centric musical of all time!
Here it is boys! Here it is world! Here’s GYPSY!
In case I’ve messed the embedding up somehow, or in case your computer is ancient and incompatible with Spotify, here’s the list:
1. Overture – Warner Bros Studio Orchestra – Gypsy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
2. May We Entertain You – Lacey Chabert and Elisabeth Moss – Gypsy (1993 TV Soundtrack)
3. Some People – Bernadette Peters – Sondheim, Etc.: Live At Carnegie Hall
4. Small World – Angela Lansbury & Barrie Ingham – Gypsy: London Cast Recording
5. Baby June & Her Newsboys – Eamon Foley, Heather Tepe, Addison Timlin, & Jordan Viscomi – Gypsy: New Broadway Cast Recording (2003)
6. Mr. Goldstone – Bette Midler – Gypsy (1993 TV Soundtrack)
7. Little Lamb – Natalie Wood – Gypsy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
8. You’ll Never Get Away From Me – Angela Lansbury & Barrie Ingham – Gypsy: London Cast Recording
9. Dainty June & Her Farmboys – Lane Bradbury – Gypsy: Original Broadway Cast Recording
10. If Mama Was Married – Zan Chrissie & Debbie Bowen – Gypsy: London Cast Recording
11. All I Need Is The Girl – Paul Wallace – Gypsy: Original Broadway Cast Recording
12. Everything’s Coming Up Roses – Patti LuPone – Gypsy: 2008 Broadway Cast Recording
13. Together Wherever We Go – Ethel Merman, Jack Klugman, & Sandra Church – Gypsy: Original Broadway Cast Recording
14. You Gotta Get A Gimmick – Julie McKenzie, Ruthie Henshall, & Bernadette Peters – Hey Mr. Producer! The Musical World Of Cameron Mackintosh
15. The Strip – Laura Benanti – Gypsy: 2008 Broadway Cast Recording
16. Rose’s Turn – Patti LuPone – Gypsy: 2008 Broadway Cast Recording
17. Finale – Warner Bros Studio Orchestra – Gypsy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the musical (who are you?): in 1959 the dream team of Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents loosely adapted the autobiography of in/famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee into a musical starring Ethel Merman. Though the musical bears Gypsy’s name, it’s really about Gypsy’s overbearing stage mother, Rose. Rose is without a doubt one of the great theatrical roles for women, up there with Martha and Lady Macbeth. Since the original show closed, a long, fabulous line of divas have sunk their teeth into the role of Rose, and I love each and every one of them.
My theory is that there are two kinds of Roses: Belting Roses (Ethel Merman, Bernadette Peters, Bette Midler), and Acting Roses (Rosalind Russel, Angela Lansbury). That’s not to say that the Belting Roses couldn’t act, or the Acting Roses couldn’t belt (well, Ros Russell couldn’t). However, each performer relied on her greatest strength to take on this legendary role, and usually that strength was one or the other. But every now and then, you get the Rose who can do it all: sing, act, and blow you away. Patti LuPone, I love you so.
Please keep in mind that this Super Album is entirely subjective. I do not pretend that these are the absolute best versions of each of these songs. In fact, I want to hear what your favorites are! Who do you think is the best Rose? What’s your favorite musical revival? Tell me in the comments below!