A Musical in 2 Acts, 17 Scenes. Book by Arthur Laurents. Suggested by the memoirs (of the same name) by Gypsy Rose Lee. Music by Jule Styne. Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Broadway Theatre, New York: Opened 21st May, 1959 - closed 11th July 1960, Transferred to the Imperial Theatre - 13th August, 1960 and closed 25th March, 1961 (total 702 performances)
Piccadilly Theatre, London - 29 May, 1973
It is the 1920s, Mama Rose wants her daughters Louise and June to be stars. Uncle. Jocko is rehearsing his Kiddie's Show . Rose bludgeons him into hearing her girls, who render the opening number "May We Entertain You", but Jocko is not entertained, and Rose storms home. With just a little money, she pleads to Grandpa, she can sweep the girls to stardom in Los Angeles. Grandpa won't sell his gold plaque from the railroad company, but that's no problem to Rose. "Some People", she sings, "Some people ain't me!". She grabs the plaque, the girls and Chowsie the dog and is off to L.A. Herbie agrees to be Rose's agent, and they sing a friendly duet, 'Small World". Everyone sings the celebratory "Mr. Goldstone". Time passes and the troupe reach New York. Because of the depression times are hard. Herbie wants Rose to give up the act and marry him, but she says he must wait until her girls are stars. "You'll never get away from me'', she sings.
They audition for the important Mr. Grantziger with the number "Broadway". He offers to make June an actress on condition that Rose keeps away from her. Rose rages out, leaving June and Louise lamenting their showbiz fate in "If Mama Was Married". They journey on. Tulsa, one of Rose's boys, is rehearsing a routine of his own; Louise joins in, and they sing "All I Need Is A Girl". On the railroad platform in Omaha Rose is deserted by the other boys; she hears that June, has married Tulsa and run away: the act is finished. The indomitable Rose switches her ambitions to Louise in "Everything's Coming Up Roses".
In Texas, Rose is rehearsing Louise who has no talent and knows it: Herbie, Rose and Louise keep their spirits up with "Together Wherever We Go", The act is now Rose, Louise and Her Hollywood Blondes, and Herbie accidentally books them into a strip joint. Louise has a lesson from the strippers in "You Gotta Get A Gimmick", They decide to stay for two weeks at the joint, and then, Rose promises she will marry Herbie and finish the act. The last day comes; the star stripper has been arrested. Rose persuades Louise to take her place, The faithful Herbie at last walks out on Rose in disgust. In a reprise montage of "Let Me Entertain You" we see Louise hit stardom as the Queen of Strip, Gypsy Rose Lee.
In the final scene Rose visits Louise in her star dressing room. Rose feels jealous and resentful that it is her dreams that have brought Louise fame. They quarrel and Louise goes. Rose sings ''Rose's Turn", wishing she had had Louise's chances. Louise returns to make friends with her mother before the final curtain.
45 parts, including 8-12 children who can sing and dance and a host of animals (lamb, monkey, dogs, cats, birds), 9 principals.
- Rose, stage mother, powerful voice, carries show.
- Baby June and Baby Louise, girls 7 or 8 who sing and dance well.
- Herbie, nice guy, intently helpful, sings.
- Louise, accomplished actress, sings well.
- June, teen-ager, sings and dances.
- Tulsa, tap dancer, sings.
- Tessie Tura, Mazeppa, and Electra, comedy strippers, bumps and grinds, sing.
Large singing, dancing, and showgirl chorus.
Total cast, 40-60.
- May We Entertain You - Baby June, Baby Louise
- Some People - Rose
- Small World - Rose, Herbie
- Baby June and her Newsboys - (Baby June, Newsboys)
- Mr. Goldstone, I Love You - Rose, (Boys)
- Little Lamb - Louise
- You'll Never Get Away from Me - Rose, Herbie
- Dainty June and her Farmboys - (June, Farmboys)
- If Momma Was Married - Louise, June
- All I Need Is the Girl - Tulsa, Louise
- Everything's Coming Up Roses - Rose
- Madame Rose's Toreadorables - Louise, Toreadorables
- Together, Wherever We Go - Rose, Louise, Herbie
- You Gotta Have a Gimmick - Tessie Tura, Mazeppa, and Electra
- Small World (reprise) - Rose
- Let Me Entertain You - Louise, Company
- Rose's Turn - Rose
Scenes and Settings
2 acts, 17 scenes, 11 full stage sets, 3 front pieces (a car, an American eagle with flags, and a barn with flags), 2 drops, front curtain representing the grand drape of three famous burlesque theatres. Original production used 1 large turntable.
- Scene 1: Uncle Jocko's Kiddie Show, Seattle.
- Scene 2: Pop's Kitchen, Seattle.
- Scene 3: On the Road.
- Scene 4: Backstage of a Vaudeville House, Los Angeles.
- Scene 5: Vaudeville Stage, Various Places in U.S.
- Scene 6: Two Hotel Rooms in Akron.
- Scene 7: Chinese Restaurant, New York.
- Scene 8: Grantziger's Palace, New York.
- Scene 9: Grantziger's Gothic Office.
- Scene 10: Theatre Alley, Buffalo.
- Scene 11: Railroad Terminal, Omaha.
- Scene 1: Desert Country, Texas.
- Scene 2: Backstage Dressing Rooms, Wichita.
- Scene 3: Backstage Corridor.
- Scene 4: Dressing Rooms and Before Stage Cur tains in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Minsky's, New York.
- Scene 5: Minsky's, Dressing Room.
- Scene 6: Bare Stage.
Period and Costumes
Early 1920's to early 1930's: kids talent costumes, knickers, vests, funny hats, women's suits, dresses, and coats of the period. Men's suits and overcoats. Cow costume. Ermine coat, page jackets, light pants, top hats, pajamas and other nightclothes, white armed services costumes, Uncle Sam outfit, stripper costumes, g-strings, etc., briefly decorated girls forming Christmas tree, Spanish madam costumes, sophisticated strip dress, long white gloves, leather coat, spats.
Tap, vaudeville song-and-dance routines, strip, bumps and grinds.
Lighting and Special Effects
Flexible lighting essential, seed lights on set, fireworks and smoke.
- Violin 1 & 2: Viola: Cello: Bass: Reed 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5: Horn, Trumpet 1, 2 & 3: Trombone 1 & 2: Guitar: Percussion: Piano-Celeste
Listen to the Music (You will need to have Real Player installed and Java Script enabled - Real Player can be downloaded from here also)