After cast member illness postponed the last run, Gypsy jumps on stage in November
Told in the Park Street Ballroom, the story of Gypsy Rose Lee and her mother Mama Rose, will be told through music in November and December.
The musical was rescheduled from its original run in August to Nov. 17 through Dec. 3. The story takes place in the late 1920s when vaudeville was dying and burlesque was born.
“It’s considered one of the greatest American musicals of all time because of the story,” Wine Country Theatre Executive Director Cynthia Anthony said. “It’s a fun story, but it has a lot of gravitas. Gypsy is a crowd- pleaser.”
The musical is based on Gypsy Rose Lee, who changed her name from Louise after her stardom was born.
“[Mama Rose] only has her eyes on fame — just trying to make it,” Anthony said. “She’s so domineering that her first daughter, June, runs off and she focuses on making Louise a star. They accidentally book a show at a house of burlesque and Anthony said “there’s no choice, but for Louise to go on. [From that] she becomes Gypsy Rose Lee and becomes so famous.”
Though the musical is based on Gypsy Rose Lee’s memoirs, it is about Mama Rose and is appropriate for children.
“It’s not an inappropriate play,” Anthony said. “It’s not about stripping. It’s family-friendly. It’s about what are the bonds that make a family.”
The cast is also multigenerational with young children, young adults and mature adults.
“I think it’s important for us to do plays with casts that are multigenerational,” Anthony said. “We’re not a children’s theater, but to do plays and musicals that can all generations is important to us.”
Sholly Von Stein will play the role of Mama Rose, San Luis Obispo County Superintendent of Schools James Brescia will play Herbie, Mama Rose’s boyfriend; Libby Parker will play Gypsy Rose Lee and Mackenzie Hart will play June, Mama Rose’s “favorite” daughter.
“This show makes the moms on current reality series like ‘Dance Moms’ and ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ look tame by comparison,” Anthony said. “It is a tremendous role, demanding a superior actress and singer, and we are thrilled to welcome Sholly to our stage. She has performed throughout the county in countless shows and her Mama Rose, or Momzilla, as I call it, is entirely authentic, loveable, irascible and entirely entertaining.”
This production is directed by Kristen Saunders with Thomas Grandoli as the musical director. Shirley Kirkes Mar will return as the choreographer; she choreographed the company’s production of “Guys and Dolls.”
Performances will be held on Fridays and Saturdays between Nov. 17 and Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 2 p.m. in Park Street Ballroom, 1232 Park St. in Paso Robles. Wine and cheese plates and snacks will be available for purchase before and during the show.
To purchase tickets, go to winecountrytheatre.com or call 805-610-0786.
Tickets are $15 for students and $25 for general admission.
Hollywood dancer and choreographer joins Wine Country Theatre for ‘Gypsy’
Shirley Kirkes Mar joined the Wine Country Theatre team to choreograph “Gypsy.” The Cambria resident teaches dance in Paso Robles and choreographed the “Guys and Dolls” musical three years ago.
She got into dance at 7 years old, leaving her home in Texas at 18 to pursue a professional career in dance. That was about 1960 and she danced with the Rat Pack during her career. She danced in night clubs, television, movies and theater until she was 35 years old, which was when she transitioned to choreographing.
“I didn’t want to be an old dancer,” Kirkes Mar said. “I made a card one day that I was a choreographer. I actually turned down jobs as a dancer.”
She said it took some time, but eventually the dance offers became offers to be a choreographer.
Over the course of her career, she’s worked with well-known people such as the actor and musician Steve Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Carol Burnett, Michael J. Fox, Henry Winkler, Michael Douglas, Christopher Walken and Gene Hackman, among others. She worked on “American President” with Rob Reiner, “Absolute Power” with Clint Eastwood and “Three Amigos” with John Landis.
“I took up [visual art] when I lost my leg,” Kirkes Mar said, adding that she studied with George Small. She paints dancers, horses, boats, whatever strikes her fancy.