|Tovah Feldshuh as Mama Rose|
The Bristol Riverside Theatre, located at 120 Radcliffe Street in Bristol, is presenting Gypsy through January 15. With its 20 member cast, Gypsy is quite possibly the largest production ever undertaken by BRT but the company is certainly up to the task. Mama Rose is a very demanding role and Ms. Feldshuh brings her heart and soul and her multiple-awarded talent to the part. Not only can she belt out a song, but she can also gently sing one in a harmonious duet or a mournful solo. She dances and cartwheels her way across the stage with verve and vitality. The facial expressions Ms. Feldshuh brings to this domineering character are wide-ranging. In short, “Everything’s Coming up Roses” for Tovah. Local talent is being used for the parts of Baby June and Baby Louise. Both Gaby Bradbury, who portrays Baby June, and Claire O’Neill, who portrays Baby Louise are seasoned and poised young actors. Their dance routine is very well executed. Riley Katner is another local young actress who portrays Baby Louise. Although I didn't see her performance, I'm sure she equals Claire in talent. Lighting Designer Ryan O’Gara must be commended for his outstanding work. Not only did he design Mama Rose’s lit backdrop and the brightly lit signs on each side of the stage which display the settings for all of Gypsy’s 17 scenes, but he designed an extraordinary special effect with strobe lights as well. Without giving too much away, let me merely say that Baby June and Baby Louse and Company age about ten years in a matter of ten seconds. Brittney Lee Hamilton plays the older June and while her younger counterpart’s forte is tap, Brittney does a lovely en point in her ballet slippers. She also sings a delightfully animated duet with Amanda Rose who plays the older Louise. In Act II, Amanda steals every scene that she is in. The audiences (both real and fictional) love her. This production is a great success because success is demanded of the people who are associated with it. Some characters are playing as many as five roles and understudying for a sixth. While this is not a new tale, the approach is fresh. Many performances are sold out. If you don’t want to miss the buzz, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at brtstage.org.