We've all heard the term "show biz mother," you know, the pushy, "My child is the best" type that is the bane of every talent show producer or children's theatre director. Well, the penultimate show biz mother was epitomized in the character of Rose, the towering presence in the classic Broadway musical Gypsy. Suggested by the memoirs of the Queen of Burlesque, Gypsy Rose Lee, the tale revolves around Rose's struggle to make it in Vaudeville with her two daughters, June and Louise.

Photo of Ronnie Stark and Alicia King
Ronnie Stark and Alicia King

Rose is so obsessed with her mission that everything and everyone else is secondary—and she gets the best songs, too. The role, which was another star vehicle for the incomparable Ethel Merman, is played with aplomb by Alicia King in Boulder's Dinner Theatre's current production of the Jules Styne/Stephen Sondheim/Arthur Laurents masterpiece. King has the requisite panache, pizzazz and chutzpah to bring the larger-than-life Rose to full force, while echoing the unmistakable tones of Merman's God-given megaphone, performing "Some People," "Small World," "Mr. Goldstone," "You'll Never Get Away From Me," "Everything Coming Up Roses," "Together Wherever We Go," and "Roses Turn."

"Long suffering," a term usually applied to world weary wives, fits the bill for Herbie, Rose's suitor of many years who doubles as the booking agent for her act. Brian Norber mixes gentleness and understanding with an undercurrent of resilience that makes Herbie stand out as an ever-present commentary on the Rose's compulsive goings-ons.

Ronnie Stark is leftover daughter Louise, who after a neglected childhood career of ensemble work and seamstress becomes the most famous stripper of them all, Gypsy Rose Lee. Stark's smooth transition from second fiddle to prima donna is effortless, as is her choreography of the show, which features a slew of Vaudeville numbers, some Burlesque routines and an endearing soft shoe that she performs with Scott Beyette.

Number one sister, June, is Joanie Brousseau-Beyette, who knocks 'em dead with her effervescent show-stoppers.

As always, Boulder's Dinner Theatre's ensemble work is excellent and the seven piece orchestra gives a zesty rendition of this memorable score.

Boulder's Dinner Theatre's production of Gypsy runs through July 8th. 303-449-6000.


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