Gypsy opened at the Muny on Friday night. It was an idyllic evening in Forest Park with a full moon, a full house, and a show filled with fine entertainment. As you may recall, the 1959 play (later a film) is about a mildly-talented performer, Gypsy Rose Lee, who struggles in vaudeville, but makes it big in burlesque thanks, in no small part, to Momma Rose, her pushy stage mother.
Being in the amphitheater, reminded me of how much effort it once took to attend a Muny performance. Back in the 60s, when I lived in rural Missouri such an evening required a babysitter and a 3-4 hour round trip in the car. For a few years, there was a one-hour time difference between St. Louis and outstate Missouri, that had to be taken into consideration as well.
In those days, people dressed up for the theater, even though it was outdoors. I remember wearing heels and hose. I especially recall fanning vigorously with my program as we wilted in the mid-summer heat.
But the pendulum has swung. I now live within minutes of Forest Park, theater attire is far more casual, and there are huge fans stirring the air during the performances.There’s also the nearby Culver Pavilion, that serves a bountiful buffet, making it a perfect pre-show dining spot.
A Backstage Peek
I was so glad we booked one of the pre-performance backstage tours. It’s always fun to look “behind the curtain” to see what wizardry goes into creating the splendid outdoor performances. That’s especially true considering the theater’s unique location and weather uncertainties.
I was amazed by the size of the backstage. It’s one-quarter the size of a football field and more like a backlot studio. We saw the props and costumes, that would be used during the evening, as well as sets under construction for the upcoming show, Meet Me in St. Louis.
The Muny’s rendition of Gypsy is spirited and captivating. Kudos to Mike Isaacson, (Artistic Director and Executive Producer), for bringing the classic musical to the Muny during the theater’s centennial year celebration.
The final feature of the season (Aug 4-12) is the ever-popular Meet Me in St. Louis set in the time of the 1904 World’s Fair.