The original Broadway production opened on May 21, 1959 at The Broadway Theatre, transferred to the Imperial Theatre, and closed on March 25, 1961 after 702 performances and two previews. The show was produced by David Merrick and directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. Ethel Merman starred as Rose, with Jack Klugman as Herbie and Sandra Church as Louise. Scenic and Lighting design were by Jo Mielziner and costumes were by Raoul Pène Du Bois. The orchestrations, including an overture, were supplied by Sid Ramin and Robert Ginzler.
Critic Frank Rich has referred to Robbins' work as one of the most influential stagings of a musical in American theatrical history. The original production received eight Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design and Best Direction of a Musical, but failed to win any.
When the show closed in March 1961, two national touring companies toured the US. The first company starred Merman and opened in March 1961 at the Rochester, New York Auditorium, and closed in December 1961 at the American, St. Louis, Missouri. The second national company starred Mitzi Green as Rose, followed by Mary McCarty. A young Bernadette Peters appeared in the ensemble and understudied Dainty June, a role she would play the following year in summer stock, opposite Betty Hutton's Rose. It opened in September 1961 at the Shubert Theatre, Detroit and closed in January 1962 at the Hanna, Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1973, it was announced that Elaine Stritch would be starring in the first West End production of the show. However, when ticket sales proved to be unsuccessful, producers hired the more familiar Angela Lansbury (according to Craig Zadan, "The...producers were not able to raise the required capital on Stritch's name, and the promise of a new production...became ominously distant."). The West End production opened at the Piccadilly Theatre on May 29, 1973. It was produced by Barry M. Brown and Fritz Holt, in association with Edgar Lansbury (Angela's brother) and directed by the show's author, Arthur Laurents with choreography reproduced by Robert Tucker. The supporting cast featured Zan Charisse, Barrie Ingham, Debbie Bowen and Bonnie Langford. Lansbury left the London production in December 1973 to tour the show in the USA and was succeeded by Dolores Gray. The production closed on March 2, 1974, after 300 performances.
Prior to opening on Broadway, the Lansbury West End production had a 24-week tour of North America, starting in Toronto, and then travelling to many cities, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, DC and Boston. The production opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on September 23, 1974 for a planned limited engagement, and closed on January 4, 1975 after 120 performances and four previews. The cast remained mainly the same on Broadway, except that Rex Robbins played Herbie, Maureen Moore (later Bernadette Peters' understudy as Rose in the 2003 revival) played the adult June, and Mary Louise Wilson was Tessie Tura. Angela Lansbury won the 1975 Tony Award.
A second revival had pre-Broadway engagements starting at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts, Miami Beach, Florida, in May 1989, and Tampa in May, then The Muny, St. Louis, in June 1989, moving to the Los Angeles Music Center and Orange County Performing Arts Center, Costa Mesa, California in July 1989, and at the Kennedy Center in August and September 1989, with several other venues prior to Broadway.
The production opened on Broadway on November 16, 1989, at the St. James Theatre, and then moved to the Marquis Theatre on April 18, 1991 and closed on July 28, 1991 after 476 performances and 23 previews. Laurents returned as director, with Tyne Daly as Rose, Jonathan Hadary as Herbie and Crista Moore as Louise. Linda Lavin (on July 30, 1990) and Jamie Ross replaced Daly and Hadary respectively, with Daly returning to the production at the Marquis Theatre from April 18, 199 until closing.
This production won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival and Daly won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance.
Jule Styne, in a 1989 interview in connection with the California tryout, said: "About six months ago, Bette Midler wanted to buy it ('Gypsy') for a movie. We wouldn't sell it. Because they'd only destroy it." USA Today reported that "Both Liza Minnelli and Bernadette Peters say they would love to [perform in] it, but they weren't even approached for this production."
A new Broadway revival began previews on March 31, 2003 and opened on May 1, 2003 at the Shubert Theatre. The director was Sam Mendes, with choreography by Jerry Mitchell and costumes and sets by Anthony Ward. Bernadette Peters played the role of Rose. Gypsy had begun previews with a virtually bare stage, but by opening night this had been changed to a minimalist set. The cast featured John Dossett as Herbie, Tammy Blanchard as Louise, Kate Reinders as June and David Burtka as Tulsa. The production was nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical.
Gypsy twice set new box office records for the Shubert Theatre. Its gross of $853,476 for the week of June 9–14, 2003 was the highest ever gross for a non-holiday week and the subsequent June 15–21, 2003 box office gross of $874,397 represented the highest gross for a show in Shubert history. However, the New York Times announced that Gypsy would close on February 28, 2004, stating:" Gypsy sold well for most of 2003. But by early January , with tourists gone and local theatergoers staying inside during a brutal stretch of weather, the production's sales grew increasingly weak. More important, the show's advance sale, the main indicator of a production's staying power, began to shrink rapidly. It stood at less than $2 million yesterday." After an increase in the gross, the show's closing was postponed indefinitely, but Gypsy finally closed on May 30, 2004 after 451 performances and 33 previews. The production is believed to have recouped a little more than half of its $8 million investment.
Patti Lupone first portrayed Rose in Gypsy at the Chicago Ravinia Festival in August 2006, directed by Lonny Price and accompanied by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It began as a concert production but evolved into a full-fledged production featuring Jerome Robbins' original choreography recreated by Bonnie Walker and even a live lamb. Excitement was generated around LuPone playing the role of Rose that producers were eager to see Price's production, with the hope of moving it to New York. Jack Viertel, the artistic director of New York City Center Encores! saw the production and was so impressed that he contacted Arthur Laurents, requesting that he direct a new fully staged production of the show for a new program, as part of the Encores! series. From July 9 to 29, 2007, the show was presented at New York City Center with LuPone once again. Directed by Arthur Laurents, the production also featured Laura Benanti as Louise, Boyd Gaines as Herbie and Leigh Ann Larkin as June. Lenora Nemetz, Marilyn Caskey, and Alison Fraser played the strippers Mazeppa, Electra, and Tessie Tura.
The Encores! production was a success and the show transferred to Broadway, where it opened at the St. James Theatre on March 27, 2008.
This production won numerous awards including the Tony Awards and Drama Desk Awards for LuPone, Gaines and Benanti. The show was originally scheduled to close in March 2009 on Lupone's final performance, but closed on January 11, 2009 due to decreases in ticket sales. Like the 2003 production, this revival also closed at a loss. The production played for 332 performances and 27 previews.
Following a run at the Chichester Festival Theatre, which won the Critics' Choice Theatre Award for Best Musical in 2014, a West End revival of Gypsy opened at the Savoy Theatre on April 15, 2015, in a limited run through November 28. Directed by Jonathan Kent with choreography by Stephen Mear and set and costume design by Anthony Ward, the production starred Imelda Staunton as Rose, Peter Davison as Herbie, Lara Pulver as Louise, Gemma Sutton as June, Anita Louise Combe as Tessie Tura, Louise Gold as Mazzeppa and Julie Legrand as Electra. The London production was nominated for eight Laurence Olivier Awards at the 2016 ceremony, winning four, including Best Actress in a Musical (Staunton) and Best Musical Revival, the most awards won by a single production in that year. It also won Best Musical Production and Best Performance in a Musical (for Staunton) at the UK Theatre Awards in 2015. Staunton also won Best Musical Performance at the Evening Standard Awards in 2015. The production was also filmed and broadcast on BBC Four over the 2015 Christmas/New Year period.
- Courtesy of Wikipedia