CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.
GYPSY at Drury Lane Theatre
Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, presents the six-time Tony Award-winning musical GYPSY, previewing January 19, opening January 26 and running through April 1. GYPSY stars Klea Blackhurst as “Rose.” Blackhurst was hailed as “Terrific!” by The New York Times and won a Special Achievement Award from TimeOut New York for her cabaret tribute to Ethel Merman, Everything That Traffic Will Allow. She starred in the London Palladium presentation of Jerry Herman’s Broadway with Angela Lansbury, as “Ado Annie” in the BBC Proms concert of Oklahoma! at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and has performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. The GYPSY cast is also led by Jeff Award-winner Andrea Prestinario as “Louise” (who has appeared in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Sugar and Of Thee I Sing at Drury Lane Theatre) and David Kortemeier as “Herbie” (Spamalot at Drury Lane Theatre). The production is directed by Drury Lane Theatre Artistic Director William Osetek (Jeff Award-nominee for Best Director and Best Production for Thoroughly Modern Millie as well as the smash hit Spamalot at Drury Lane Theatre).
GYPSY has been hailed as “The great American musical!” (The New York Times); “The stuff Broadway dreams are made of!” (New York Daily News); “Glorious…utter bliss!” (Los Angeles Times); and “An enormously satisfying experience…masterfully constructed…richly textured…thrilling…electrifying!” (Variety). Widely considered to be one of the greatest American musicals ever written, GYPSY features music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents. GYPSY has been nominated for twenty-eight Tony Awards and is the winner of six, including Best Revival of a Musical. The production’s iconic Grammy Award-winning score includes Let Me Entertain You, Some People, and Everything’s Coming Up Roses. GYPSY first opened on Broadway in 1959 and ran for 702 performances. The 1963 film version was nominated for three Academy Awards and Rosalind Russell, who starred as “Rose,” won a Golden Globe for Best Actress. GYPSY has had four Broadway revivals, most recently in 2008 with Patti LuPone as “Rose.”
A triumphant story of the complex bond between a mother and daughter, GYPSY is based on the 1957 memoirs of burlesque legend Gypsy Rose Lee. Mama Rose is a stage mother wildly determined to turn her two young daughters into famous vaudeville performers. For years, Rose focuses her attention on her younger, more talented daughter June. When June elopes with a dancer, Rose ruthlessly pushes her grand dreams of showbiz success onto her shy older daughter Louise. Filled with hidden talent, Louise becomes a star beyond what Rose could imagine.
GYPSY also stars Francis Asher as “Electra” (Lullabye and Goodnight Off-Broadway), Cheryl Avery as “Mazeppa” (Ziegfeld, A Night at the Follies at Drury Lane Theatre and The Drowsy Chaperone at Marriot Theatre), Andrea Collier as “June” (The National Tour of Hairspray and A Christmas Carol at North Shore Music Theatre), Matthew Crowle as “Tulsa” (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Drury Lane Theatre, Spamalot on Broadway and The National Tour of Dr. Doolittle), Zach Gray as “Angie” (The Music Man at Marriott Theatre), Jeff Award-nominee Peter Kevoian as “Goldstone” (The Sound of Music at Drury Lane Theatre and The Screwtape Letters at The Mercury Theater), Emily Leahy as “Baby June” (The Sound of Music at Drury Lane Theatre and Dollhouse at the Goodman Theatre), Susan Lubeck as “Tessie Tura,” Andy Lupp as “Weber” (White Christmas, 42nd Street and Guys and Dolls at Marriott Theatre), Kayla Rea as “Balloon Girl” (The National Tour of A Christmas Story, The Musical!), Jeff Award-winner John Reeger as “Pop” (The Sound of Music and A Christmas Carol at Drury Lane Theatre, Sunset Boulevard at Marriott Theatre and Amadeus at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), Holly Stauder as “Mrs. Crachett” (For The Boys and Guys and Dolls at Marriott Theatre), Hannah Whitlock as “Baby Louise” (The Sound of Music at Drury Lane Theatre), and Jarrod Zimmerman as “Jocko” (A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre and The Music Man at Marriott Theatre).
The ensemble includes Jenny Guse (Follies at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and 42nd Street at Marriott Theatre), Katie Huff (The Sound of Music, Spamalot and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Drury Lane Theatre), Amanda Kroiss (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Hot Mikado at Drury Lane Theatre), and Cara Salerno (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Drury Lane Theatre and Crazy for You at Theatre at the Center). John Babbo (Sweeney Todd at Drury Lane Theatre), Kyle Halford and Matt Rice (Sweeney Todd at Drury Lane Theatre and A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre) are “The Newboys.”
GYPSY is Choreographed by Jeff Award-winner Tammy Mader (Choreographer of Spamalot and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and the Director and Choreographer of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Drury Lane Theatre) with Musical Direction by Jeff Award-winner Roberta Duchak (The Sound of Music, Sweeney Todd, Ragtime, Spamalot, Miss Saigon, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Drury Lane Theatre). Return to the age of Vaudeville with the vibrant set by Scenic Designer Martin Andrew (The Glass Menagerie at Steppenwolf Theatre). Lighting Design is by Jeff Award-winner Jesse Klug (The Sound of Music, Sweeney Todd and Spamalot at Drury Lane Theatre) and Costume Design is by Melissa Torchia (Aida at Drury Lane Theatre and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Paramount Theatre). Sound Design is by Sarah Pickett and Wig Design by Rick Jarvie (The Sound of Music and Sweeney Todd at Drury Lane Theatre).
The performance schedule is as follows: Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. ($35), Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. ($35) and 8:00 p.m. ($40), Fridays at 8:30 p.m. ($45), Saturdays at 5 p.m. ($45) and 8:30 p.m. ($46) and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. ($45) and 6:00 p.m. ($40). Lunch and dinner theater packages range from $49.75 to $68 depending on the day of the week. Student tickets start as low as $20 and Senior Citizen tickets start as low as $29 for matinees and $43.75 for a matinee luncheon package. For reservations, call the Drury Lane Theatre box office at 630.530.0111, call Ticketmaster at 800.745.300, or visit www.drurylaneoakbrook.com.