BAR MITZVAH BOY’s Peyton Lusk

Peyton Lusk in BAR MITVAH BOY.  What a fantastic performance!

Two weeks ago I saw BAR MITZVAH BOY, part of the York Theatre’s Musicals in Mufti series, which revives musicals.  This season they’ve been reviving the musicals of composer Jule Styne of GYPSY fame.

It was terrific.  I wish it had had a longer run, it was so terrific.  I would have gone back to see it again, and so would the friend who attended the show with me.

And I wanted to give a great big BRAVO and a shout-out to the show’s young star, Peyton Lusk.  From the second he took the stage, this kid was wonderful.  The entire ensemble cast was great, but the character that Peyton played basically has to carry the whole thing, and he delivered.  His comic timing was impeccable, and in other scenes, he’d break your heart.  For the most part, I all but split my sides at this production, laughing.

The show was based on a TV movie that was made into a British musical, and I’m not sure if it was ever shown here in NYC before.  It should be.   It’s about a little boy who is reluctant to have a bar mitzvah, and no wonder: his wacky family is too busy trying to turn it into the social event of the year…

The rest of the cast included Lori Wilner, hilarious as the mother, Ned Eisenberg as the father who’s paying for it all, Tim Jerome as the delightful Grandpa, Neal Benari, Ben Fankhauser, Julie Benko, and Casey Watkins.  Superb, all.

The original production was rewritten a bit before this round of performances.  The only fault I found with the show came from one part of the storyline.  I’m going to mention it, just in case more rewrites are under consideration and somebody involved manages to find this blog post.  The child, at one point, takes off running, but although it’s mentioned in passing some time later, you don’t see the family immediately calling the police.  I mean, sure, they’re self-absorbed to a fare-the-well, but hello! 

While the Musicals in Mufti shows are done in concert, with the actors allowed to read from scripts, getting back to Peyton Lusk, he had his whole part memorized.  I didn’t see him look at his script once.  Like I said, BRAVO!

If ever there was a production that ought to be moved to Off-Broadway, I’d have to say it’s this one.

 

 

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Potential Authors: If You’ve Got the Dream, Have the Guts!

 

Peter Davison, Imelda Staunton and Lara Pulver strut their stuff in the UK production of GYPSY.

Peter Davison, Imelda Staunton and Lara Pulver strut their stuff in the UK production of GYPSY.  What a surprise I got when the CD arrived!

If you’re thinking about writing a book on something that fascinates you, and if you’re hesitating, have I got a story for you!

As I’ve said before, I had a fabulous time researching Rose Thompson Hovick, the real woman portrayed – though 75% fictitiously – in the Broadway musical GYPSY.

What I may not have previously mentioned was the amount of seemingly endless hard work that had to be put into it, first the two and a half years of research, then, when that was done, the Friday nights through the early hours of Monday mornings that I’d spend writing, sometimes on days so beautiful it wasn’t easy to stay inside the house.  I always let myself out for breakfast and dinner breaks along with a few short walks around my neighborhood during those “writing marathon” weekends.  “Eyes on the prize,” I’d tell myself.  I’d also sing the little Randy Newman song, “Almost There,” and get right back to work.  I had wanted to uncover the real story of Rose, from the time I first heard that GYPSY, while a spectacular show and a favorite, wasn’t an entirely accurate depiction of Gypsy Rose Lee’s family, and never once thought of not completing the project.  The show is great, yet the true story of Rose needed to get out there, too.

I had also loved the score of the show, by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim, from the first time I heard it at the age of twelve.  I was growing up in a particularly stultifying suburb.  “Some People,” a character song sung by Rose about how much disdain she had for the life of those who never get anywhere and the fact that, “Some people can thrive and bloom, living life in the living room,” became my anthem, especially when I heard the hysterical lyrics at the end:

“Some people sit on their butts,

Got the dream, yeah!  But not the guts…”

A few weeks ago, when I heard that there was a new CD recording of GYPSY by the 2015 London cast, I wanted very much to hear it and ordered it from Amazon UK.  Imelda Staunton is starring in England as Rose.  The initial UK Chichester production had contacted me for information and photos with regard to their souvenir programme, which they’d later sent me.  It had since moved to the London West End stage, and I was very excited about the new CD.

It arrived about a week ago.  I didn’t really get the chance to listen to all of it (except “Some People”), or download it onto the iPod, until last night.  I went home from work, put on the CD, and took a look at the liner notes, wanting to see the cast pictures.  Those notes contained some very familiar content, and then I got a big surprise at the end.  The author of the notes “gratefully acknowledges Carolyn Quinn’s book MAMA ROSE’S TURN as an important source for this essay.”

How often does anybody order a CD they simply can’t wait to hear – and then find themselves to be one of the sources of the back story described within it? 

The moral of the story is this.  If there’s a book inside you that you want to write, by all means go for it!  Don’t just have the dream – have the guts!  This happened to me, and this latest development came when I wasn’t even expecting it.  I’ve also had several book signings, appeared on PBS television, and hear from people from all over the world who are just as interested in Rose as I always was.  If it happened to me, guess what?  It can happen to you, too!  Keep at it, and like Admiral Farragut said, “Don’t give up the ship!”

If you’re going to London, check out the show.   Speaking of ships, where’s the Queen Mary?  I’m thinking of possibly going to London to see GYPSY myself.  Bravo to the London cast!  Here’s the trailer:

 

 

 

MAMA ROSE’S TURN Event at The Ziegfeld Society February 22nd!

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The next MAMA ROSE’S TURN book event is going to be right here in New York City when The Ziegfeld Society puts on a show on February 22nd!  Loria Parker will be playing Rose, Merrill Grant is June, Vanessa Altshuler is Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee, and with Mark York at the piano, as always, it’s going to be a great event!

They will be singing the actual songs that were in the acts that Rose Hovick managed for her two daughters.  The original Jazz Age acts were called: The Diehl and Hovick Sisters, Baby June the Pocket-Sized Pavlova, Baby June & Her Pals, Dainty June and Her Newsboy Songsters.  June was later known professionally as June Havoc.  The acts led by Louise, later called Gypsy Rose Lee, were called Madame Rose’s Dancing Daughters and Rose Louise and Her Hollywood Blondes.  It was very exciting the other night, at the first rehearsal, to finally see some of these songs played out and performed.  Rose Hovick’s children performed on the old vaudeville Pantagis and Orpheum Circuits.  Rose was later portrayed on Broadway and film by Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Rosalind Russell, Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters, Bette Midler, Patti LuPone, and will soon be played by Barbara Streisand in a new movie.  Join us on the 22nd of February to find out why the original act Rose created  act to showcase her daughters was so much fun and is see what it was all about!

I’ll be in this production, too, as the Narrator.  So come one, come all, and JOIN US on February 22nd!

When: Saturday, February 22nd

Where: Lang Recital Hall, Hunter College, 69th Street between Park & Lexington Avenues, New York City

Cost:  $7 Members and $15 Non-Members

To reserve: email ziegfeldsociety@aol.com or book tickets online at www.theziegfeldsociety.com 

Near: The Madison Avenue Buses (M1, M2, M3, M4) and the #6 Subway Line

SEE YOU THERE!

 

Article on the Minnesota Roots of Mama Rose Hovick

The real Mama Rose

The real Mama Rose

Here’s a new article on my upcoming book, MAMA ROSE’S TURN, by Theresa Malloy of the Dakota County Tribune in Minnesota.  Theresa’s paper was one of the ones I used as a source of documents for my book, so it was particularly awesome to be covered by that paper myself!

http://sunthisweek.com/2013/06/27/author-uncovers-life-of-infamous-vaudeville-stage-mom-with-farmington-roots-in-new-book/

English: By William Wesen on February 23, 2008...

English: By William Wesen on February 23, 2008 – released to the Public Domain Category:Images of Minnesota – should be in Commons Category:Registered Historic Places in Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)