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News arrow Features arrow 'LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU' STORY OF GYPSY ROSE LEE COMES TO LIFE ON HARBOR STAGE

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'LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU' STORY OF GYPSY ROSE LEE COMES TO LIFE ON HARBOR STAGE

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Pilot review and photos by Bill Schlichting

Several reviews could be written about the musical "Gypsy." That's because it's a story about vaudeville acts pushed on two sisters by a mother who wants them to be what she was not.

In a way, it's a series of acts within one three-hour long production.

The play performed this month by the Chetco Pelican Players is a marvelous production.

No emotion goes untouched in the storyline. The audience will feel the sadness of a daughter forced into doing something she doesn't want to do, laughter at the acts of burlesque show girls and anger at a mother who is more interested in herself.

The mother's name is Rose (played by Judie Hanson). Her aspirations are to make it big in vaudeville. Her elder daughter Louise (played as a child by Ryan Brickley) is an untalented "mama's girl." June (played as a child by Hanna Farr) could pass for Shirley Temple before her time. June is talented and is mama's favorite.

From the beginning, Rose steps onto the stage, pushing the girls to do their act singing "Let Me Entertain You." Rose also annoys many stage hands by making sure her girls are noticed.

Rose's vaudeville act is taken on the road with an act titled "Baby June and Newsboys."

Critics find this act adorable. However, the act becomes stale over the years after Baby June and the rest of the troupe are no longer young children. Reviews aren't too good anymore.

Following a dream she had about a cow in the act, Rose pushes the idea on her daughters. The newsboys are now farm boys, June (now played by Lauren Frost) and the talentless Louise (now played by Megan Walters) wears a cow costume.

Unfortunately, it's the same act only with different costumes and a cow added to the script. It wasn't an act that brought good reviews. The actors realize this and leave the troupe. Rose faces another dilemma when June elopes and leaves the nest.

The stubborn Rose does not give up dreams of stardom. Even though Louise has no talent, she is convinced she can make her famous on stage.

However, another problem faces Rose: Vaudeville is dead. Her new act features Louise, a troupe of female actors and the cow. The act is rehashed with different people.

A review of this vaudeville act tells the troupe that not only is this kind of theater dead, but so is the act. It doesn't have life in a burlesque show.

At first Rose was against burlesque, but after meeting Tessie Tura (played by Hayley Farr), a stripper who called Louise and Rose Gypsies, she changed her mind. A reluctant Gypsy Rose Louise is told by her mother to do an act, baring just a shoulder.

Her name is changed to Gypsy Rose Lee and the act is a hit. She comes onto the stage with the song she learned in her childhood act and performed through her show-business career: "Let Me Entertain You."

Director Leanne McCurley did an incredible job putting this production together. Thirty-four actors playing anywhere from one to four characters were on stage (Alex Kaylan played the roles of Clarice the clarinetist, Gail, a show girl and a maid), making for a crowded curtain call. Among the cast members, 14 were newcomers to the Performing Arts Center stage, including Walters, who brilliantly played a lead role.

Music director Sandy Harper led those who had singing roles through 18 songs.

Leading the singing role was Hanson, who sang eight songs, some solo, others with either Herbie (played by Lon Goddard), who played the agent and strung-along fiance, or with others.

Other standout singers include the actors who played June and Louise, Tulsa (played by Jake Cartwright) and the strippers Mazeppa (Christina Voigt), Electra (Heather Rouge) and Tessie.

No one strips, but expect hilarious surprises.

Lexi Smith plays a fourth show girl who does a tap dance routine, which was choreographed, along with other dance numbers, by McCurley and Brieanna Wilson. All the dances were enjoyable.

Music was arranged by David Godino.

Many costumes were designed for this play by Dori Blodgett. With quite a few quick costume changes including some involving children, Dianna Cartwright, Leona Reeves and Kelsey Thompson are backstage helping this happen.

Jason Cartwright operated the spotlight. Lights and sound were done by Susan Campbell and Darryl Harmon. At the end of scene changes, the volume faded on some songs while others were annoyingly cut off.

Larry Bacon designed the 16 scenes, most of which were not repeated.

Opening night was sold out. Seats were available Saturday and Sunday and McCurley said there are plenty of tickets available for future shows.

She also announced that after opening night, the length of the play was cut by a half hour

This production continues for two more weekends. Show times are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, June 20, 21, 27 and 28, and 2 p.m. Sundays, June 22 and 29.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. They may be purchased at Mory's, Words and Pictures, Copy-All, JC Penney, Coastal Physical Therapy, Northwest Physical Therapy, Chetco Pharmacy and Gifts or at the door beginning 45 minutes before show time. For reservations or information, call (541) 469-1857 or (877) 434-4137.

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