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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #13 (From GYPSY)

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I get the sense that the scene is like a glimpse to what it was like during the beginning of stage musicals. Almost like the musical at its early beginnings. Oh that Rosalind Russell-loud and brash and out to take over. I have seen her in so many roles where she is like that and of course it only makes me curious to wonder if she was like that in real life. Even as the Mother Superior in "The Trouble with Angels" (1966) in which she did after "Gypsy" you can still see the feisty Russell doing what she does best albeit with a habit on. The fascinating thing about the lyrics "Let me entertain you" if that depending on who is singing in and the scenario they are in it can easily go from innocent to more risqué. 

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Besides Doris Day and Audrey Hepburn, Rosalind Russell is one of my favorite style icons, and in Gypsy as Mama Rose, she utilizes all of her sartorial superpowers in the role. As the musicals started to become more "disruptive" in the 1960s her costumes in this film give her characterization a feminist edge that also personifies who she is and how she tries to manipulate Gypsy. Strong, but vulnerable and dismissive, she also pushes her to be her best and realize her genius as a striptease artist.

1) In what ways does this scene look backward to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical?

It looks backward to more classical musicals like 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933 by showing how an audition would be for performers trying out for a show. The backstage drama, fights, favoritism and eventual disappointments are all played out during this pivotal scene. What makes it so "disruptive," and a departure from the "studio era" musicals, is its lack of sentimentality towards family relationships and children in general. Since they're considered entertainers they're treated in a very mature manner eschewing the previous notions that they are innocent and should be shielded from the world's harsh realities. Like the adults, in this scene, they are front and center for whatever comes next without any buffers or escape hatch.

2) This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell's entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress.

Physically she's very imposing, with the forward stride of her walk and booming voice making her even more impressive. The leopard print hat and matching coat she wears also gives her a predatory appeal, that promises excitement and direction, which she exhibits beautifully on stage with Baby June, Louise, and Herbie. As I watched her I felt the way she projected and demonstrated motivation behind every gesture was a direct result of her years of professionally commanding the spotlight whenever her character needed to. Up until she arrives there's a contrast in energy, on the screen, proving her deliverance was appropriate and needed to give the scene tension and balance.

3) Pay attention to the song "Let Me Entertain You" in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim's lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song's performance and staging as disruptive (or not).

The song has a bawdy, mature edge that sounds like it's about a woman who's willing to be exploited. It's desperation and sweetness when sung by Baby June and the younger Louise, make it seem as if it were reworked for children to perform, despite being originally created for someone with a questionable reputation. The performance itself isn't disruptive, but the musical choice is because it doesn't fit the candy cuteness of the two girls.

 

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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #13 (FROM GYPSY)

“Chasing all the lights that shine and when they let you down, you’ll get up off the ground…it’s Another Day of Sun” (from La-La Land)

1. This starts as a backstage musical then we get a behind the behind-the-scenes look at backroom politics by the foreshadowing of new disruptions in musicals by an actual disruption of the auditions by Mama Rose.

2. Mama Rose (Rosalind Russell) is a faded-flower stage mother living vicariously through her daughters, Baby Jane and Gypsy Rose.

3. Baby Jane is dolled up like a living doll in a baby beauty pageant but it looks like the fix is in on the balloon girl who presumably auditioned on some casting crib.  The lyrics for this scene suggests that everyone is trying to exploit while being exploited.

 

 

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Daily Dose# 13

  • In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical? In this scene, one could see that an audition takes place and the candidates try out their performances. Then, two adorable children perform "Let Me Entertain You". All of a sudden, a woman swiftly comes through the hallway and pushes the casting director aside. Since, she was a stage mother, she knew everything about the stage, the set and the program. Easily, she took over the stage to make her children the stars of the show. Naturally, she made sure to drive away the other children away from the audition. This scene was indeed unusual to me as no one could run and take over the auditions unless the casting director or the show manager says so.

 

  • This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress. Miss Russell's role as Mama Rose is that of an authoritarian mother who stops at nothing but to see her children shine like stars. She will do anything to get them on Show Business. A stage mother knows how to survive on stage. She takes the place of the casting director and casts the existing one out. She has been an experienced actress since the early 1930's and everyone knows her for her performances as the energetic news reporter Hildy Johnson in "His Girl Friday".             

 

 

 

  • Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not). Yes, the lyrics of this song is a little bit cheeky Since, it is sung by a cherubic child, I don't think that the audience would take this song in a wrong way.  
 

              

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1. In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical?

At the start, it's highly reminiscent of the backstage musicals of the 1930s. It almost vaudevillian in many ways. The orchestra pit is clearly seen, as well. However, about halfway through, the entire scene takes a turn, becoming entirely more disruptive and even subversive. Mama Rose barging in can be seen as symbolic of the upheaval experienced in movie musicals and the studio system in the 1960s. 
 

2. This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress.
 

She's very bombastic, eccentric, and loud. She is there to be noticed, and her every action is done to make sure she the center of attention. She won't be pushed around, either.

3. Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not).

The words are have a bit of a double meaning. Considering the song is reused later in the film by a grown up Gypsy Rose Lee in a burlesque routine, it's pretty obvious the lyrics have a definite sexual connotation.

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1. The scene looks backwards to classical musicals because it shows the idea of the young actress trying to make it big in musical theater.  The scene looks forwards to the disruptions that will be seen in the movie musicals of the 1960s by showing Mama Rose as her daughters' manager instead of as a homemaker.

2. Rosalind Russell's entrance was just as perfect in this movie as it was in Auntie Mame.  She did an absolutely fantastic job playing Mama Rose.  I have yet to see another actress who can even remotely hold a candle to Rosalind Russell in the same role.

3. The song in this scene has a more innocent tone and different background music than the same song used later when Natalie Wood sings it as Gypsy Rose Lee.

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The opening scene of Gypsy looks back to classic movie musicals as a quaint brightly colored throwback to more innocent vaudeville days, seemingly wholesome and good fare for the whole family. It makes one think of the backstage musicals of the past, though more novelty than elegant. It's an ensemble cast, until Russell enters and takes over the scene. The scene looks ahead as it is literally disrupted by Russell, her risque innuendos, broad bold movements and portrayal of a strong woman who is not subservient to any man...all qualities more fitting to the cultural climate of the 1960s and beyond. 

Russell enters from offstage, shouting to Louise, and takes command. Her rapid fire speech and dialogue overlapping the music reminds one of the style she employed in Howard Hawks's His Girl Friday. This and the blocking of the scene, show her professionalism as a trained film and stage actress.

There is something unnerving about the way the children are presented, the little girl's movements being more adult and stripper-like than childlike and innocent. Sondheim uses the words "tricks," possibly implying sexy stage moves as part of a stripper act. As stated earlier, "Let me entertain you" is more alluring than "see me entertain you" or some other word choice. Mama Rose's directions seem like double entendres, when she says "every little movement has a meaning" "Hit her with something pink...or amber lights I forget" Amber could reference the book "Forever Amber" or mean cautionary. The girl dressed in balloons also seems like a hint at the costumes strippers wore onstage at one time. 

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1.  It looks back to backstage musicals.  It looks ahead at the change in entertainment because now is directed to a younger audience instead of families and they don't want that kind of show anymore.

2.  Rosalind Russell knew her way on stage.  She walks in like she owns the stage and yells to her daughter to sing louder.  She's so persistent selling her girls, she's not walking out unless they are in the show.

3.  Baby June is the main attraction here.  She's innocent and a great dancer while Louise doesn't have that kind of talent.  She's sucking her thumb indicating her innocence at this point of the story.  In this number they are innocent but later on the lyrics change from "let" me entertain you to "make" me entertain you when a grownup Louise sings making the number enticing.  It's important to see the contrast between the innocence of Baby June and grown up Louise.  I think this contrast shows the change to come in show business from innocent family oriented to more suggestive and edgy for the young audience.   

 

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First, I must say something about “A Hard Day’s Night”.  I was 13 when the Beatles came out, and they dominated my teen years, and are still a big part of my world.  I remember coming home from school one day to be escorted to my bedroom by mom and my brother.  There on my Hi-Fi was “Meet the Beatles”.  I was so excited I cried.  My girlfriends and I talked more about the Beatles than about the boys we knew, and we’d argue about which Beatle was ours.  George was always my favorite.  I had a Beatles sweatshirt, a guitar pin with George’s picture in it, magazine articles, newspaper clippings, all their singles, all their albums, and we’d never miss their performances on TV.  I was the first one into the drive-in movie in my town when “A Hard Day’s Night” premiered there.  My brother and I sat on top of the projection booth, and he and the other boys had to leave because we girls could not stop screaming and crying.  The radio was always on in the car, in the house, and on the ever-present pocket transistor radio that went with me everywhere.  (I still have one and listen to the Oldies on it.)  We sang along with every Beatles song, and even my parents knew all the words.  We couldn’t wait until Friday when the Top 40 Songs were announced.  My brother started learning to play guitar, and mom would sit with him and write down the lyrics of all their songs so he could sing them as he learned to play.  Suddenly, there was a band in nearly every garage in our neighborhood.  The British Invasion arrived like gangbusters, and we were truly Anglophiles.  Every group was new and exciting, and we had to dress like them, fix our hair like theirs, and try to talk like them.  There was nothing else in the world to us, but music.  We weren’t interested in politics, and didn’t want it to get mixed up with our music.  And the music was great – so many new sounds, great guitarists, bassists, drummers, and singers.  We were spoiled by the plethora of talent and brilliant songs and sounds that filled our lives.  I don’t think there will ever be another time quite like the 1960's, and if you weren’t there, it’s impossible to know how it truly felt.  The Beatles and their British compatriots were the soundtrack of our lives. 

Yes, “A Hard Day’s Night” was in black and white, but that movie turned the world into COLOR.

Now to "Gypsy" - This clip harkens back to the classical musicals as there is a stage show where the boss has his favorite cast member, who may not always be the most talented.  Here there’s a stage mother to balloon girl that has aroused his interest in order to sway the competition.  Louise is the overlooked newbie that will later become the star, like Ruby Keeler in “42nd Street”.  There’s a set-to between the boss and stage manager/choreographer as in earlier musicals, with the latter stomping off the set.  This film is more pre-code with its subject matter and costumes.  As the focus moves to the world of Mama Rose and of Louise, we have two scenarios fighting each other and disrupting the opening premise of Baby June being the star.  Louise steals the spotlight by not only eclipsing Baby June, but doing it by adopting and adapting her theme song.

Rosalind Russell (Mama Rose) bulldozes onto the scene with the strong presence she always manifested in her previous films.  She’s confident, outspoken, and unable to be cowed.  She is in charge, and even the orchestra follows her directions.  Russell has that snappy chatter that she displayed in movies like “His Girl Friday”.  She dominates the screen, and though definitely womanly, she has an air of masculinity about her that arises from her strong personality.  It’s because she can stand toe-to-toe with any man.  I couldn’t, however, quit worrying about the poor puppy she used as a prop.  He held my attention more than any other character.

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1. Like many of the classic musicals, we see the behind the scenes view of vaudeville. However, it also foreshadows the burlesque scene with the balloon girl. The interruption of the mother disrupting the entire workings of the show looks forward to the studis’ and society’s upheaval.

2. Russell commands the scene. The second her voice is heard, Marsden has lost control.ironically, he knows it. While the teacher in me is irked by her rudeness, I applaud Russell’s ability to carry the scene with such strength and humor. 

3. The song’s lyrics have a double meaning. As a child, it plays innocently, but as an adult, those same words can be used to convey the striptease show. The tricks can be dancing, as the children do, but as an adult, Gypsy changes the meaning of the trick to the striptease.

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Like many of the old musicals, this brings back that classic backstage musical feel. They're trying to put on a show and are in the process of casting for the show. The audition we really see is

one of vaudeville style. The music adds a pinch of comedy to simple moves, such as when Baby June lifts her leg up.

Rosalind Russell steals the show with her entrance, as her character often does throughout the movie. She immediately begins barking orders at everyone, her kids, the orchestra, and the men

in charge. In doing so, she takes charge of the stage and the scene. Even as the other girl starts making her way back to the stage, possibly to see the act or possibly because she thinks the

spot is hers, Mamma Rose "threatens" her with her hat pin, leading her back off stage. That, along with her entrance and how she takes over, adds to the chaos of the scene, which was

already partially chaotic. She talks over everyone, never letting them get a word in edgewise, something she does often as the film continues, which further solidifies her "take charge" attitude.

As it has been mentioned, the song works in two ways. You can see how it can have it's meaning changed, but in this scene there's not much enticement as it gains later in the film. Instead it

has more of a "look at me!" sense to it in the way kids have when they do anything for attention.

 

What I did find interesting, which I didn't catch when I first watched this movie, was when Louise first says that she's company "until [her] mother figures out what she does best." That makes

the rest of the movie even more interesting as I think back to it. That stripping was what her mother found she did best, at least to get her foot in the door. It just adds that extra layer to the

film.

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This scene demonstrates the differences between a musical written for a film and a  musical written for the stage.  On stage, especially with Ethel Merman, the scene is meant to be loud, emphatic, and funny. On screen, the presentation is too forceful, too stagey, and not amusing.  Rosalind Russell turns on her stage manner rather than her film approach, she is working much too hard to enact the ultimate "stage mother."  The film audience had not gotten so dense that the actors had to overwhelm them with the obvious.  

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1)  I don't know if I agree with it being backwards because actors and actresses have to have a beginning that starts somewhere.  How many stories have we heard about the backstage mother and how she pushes to get her son or daughter noticed by someone of importance and then watch their career hopefully take off.  They hovered backstage to make sure things would go according to their plan.  Rosalind Russell played that type of mother.  Only the best for her daughters.  A lot of the older musicals had backstage scenes.  

2)  Mama Rose's entrance:  loud, opinionated, and pushy.  Since Ms. Russell started in the theatre she would know all about what goes on behind the scenes.  She was right on the money.  Mom is here, this is the way it is going to be, I want my girls to have this type of music, this lighting, blah, blah, blah.  She takes right over.  

3)  The song "Let me Entertain You" when it is sung by Baby June is not in the least provocative.  Now when you have Gypsy Rose Lee take it as her theme song, it slowly starts to take on a whole different connotation.  The first time she sings it, she is scared to death.  As Gypsy's career grows, the song gradually becomes more edgy as her moves become more alluring.  

I am behind this week, so I'm glad I got this in.  

 

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1. The backstage auditions echo older musicals like Busby Berkley's 42 Street but the addition of the vivid, eye-catching colors that were prevalent in musicals of the 1950s and 1960s are seen here. 

2. Rosalind Russell certainly knows how to make an entrance and she's no exception here where she grabs everyone's attention as soon as she bursts through the door. She climbs on stage and takes control of the entire situation. 

3. As sung by children, the song's lyrics seem innocent but if it were sung by an adult, I can definitely see how one could pull some subtext from the song.

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In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical?

It looks backwards by being in the tried and true form of the backstage musical - like so many of the films we've discussed previously, the scene involves a rehearsal of a show. Nothing new here. However, basically everything else is a disruption. We catch glimpses of the seemy underbelly of the business - the whole thing is fixed, they've already determined the winner before the competition. Then you have the strong female figure who comes in and quite literally disrupts the whole operation by her mere presence.

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1) In this scene, "Gypsy" moves backward because it starts off as a backstage musical with innocent little girls auditioning for a show. It takes a quick turn forward to a more permissive time to include a sinister promoter pushing for his girl to be selected. Meanwhile innocent looking June and Louise sing and dance in a clingy number when June does a cartwheel and exposes her undies. Later the story goes from untainted girls in vaudeville  to young women doing harsh burlesque stripping.

20 Rosalind Russell known for her quick witted banter comes into the scene like a lightning bolt...loud, brash and IN control. She shows tremendous confidence and expects everything to go her way. She takes charge of the scene, lighting and orchestra in one swift move. Great example of female power over men.I think Russell pulls this off magnificently.

3) For those that have seen the movie, you know that the words have a subversive meaning later on. "Let Me Entertain You" and "I will do some tricks" define the world of burlesque where women provoke and "satisfy" men in the audience. I agree with some of my classmates that there even was some sexualization of little girls in vaudeville to appeal to males.

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Mama Rose's entrance reminds me of something I once heard about the transition of stage actors to film.  A stage presence is very different than a film presence and it was hard for some stage actors to tone themselves down and to become more subtle in their expressions and movements. With cameras, they no longer had to project out to the back row. Mama Rose shows her theatrical background by pretty much leaving a vacuum in her wake as she walks around the stage giving out orders. 

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  1. This scene goes back to earlier days when films were first coming from stage to screen. Acts were not always chosen by talent alone but by who you may know in the theater. That is reflected in this scene. She comes very close to breaking the fourth wall in the scene. In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical?
     
  2. Rosalind Russell is very bold and brash when she enters into this scene. she is quite confident and sure of herself. She wants to make sure that her children get into this production. She tells the musicians how to help as well as the lighting person.
     
  3. "Some old and then some new tricks, I'm very versatile,"  are very suggestive lyrics for an adult to sing, much less children. So as the movie progresses and Gypsy Rose Lee becomes an adult entertainer, it foreshadows her future. 

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  1. In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical?

In the early musicals, the camera was the audience's eye on the stage.  There is a full frame, end-to-end shot of the stage as a whole, and we get to watch the performance.  However, there's going to be a shift.  Just as the filming of musicals historically have shifted, the stage performance is loudly interrupted by Rosalind Russell's Mama trying to "backseat drive" the performance of her daughters.  Our wide eyed view is then gone, and we are left to focus on the center of attention:  Mama.

  1. This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress.

There is no smooth transition to introduce Mama Rose. Her brash, intrusive persona bursts into the scene with a clean cut, thus disrupting the "kiddy show" we were already watching.  The camera follows her to and fro across the stage as our most necessary focal point.   Russell is then after the center of ea

  1. Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not).

Perhaps I'm jaded, I didn't hear anything edgy while the children were singing but if you juxtapose the same song to Gypsy's burlesque performance, the words take on new, suggestive meanings.

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1. The staging of the scene and its overall presentation are reminiscent of the way old-school musicals were done, particularly the types of musicals known as "backstage musicals" that were all about putting on a show. However, Gypsy really seems to be looking ahead to the disruptions to come with its dialogue, characters, and costuming; this is a vaudeville performance, not the glamorous shows of Broadway or put on in early movie musicals where wealth and privilege were obvious in every aspect.  All of the characters are presented as a collection of "lower class" individuals and far from the typical gender presentations we're used to; no gentle, demure women or strong, valorous leading men. 

2. Here, we have the introduction of a character who is a loud, take charge woman who is far from the prim and proper stereotypes of musical performers we're used to. She marches right in and insinuates herself into the production, basically taking over for the man in charge and, considering that she is a traditionally trained stage and film actress, the kind of rough and coarse character that Mama Rose is completely clashes with what seemed to be expected of "traditional" actresses. I think it's hilariously entertaining how she just commandeers the stage and performances, but it's definitely a far cry from the female performances we've seen in musicals leading up to this decade.

3. I think the most sly and edgy aspect to the lyrics, aside from the suggestive nature of the words "let me" and "make," is how they're performed and sung by a young girl. I mean, the implications from that alone would be enough to make this film unfit for the Code era of Hollywood! I can see the subversiveness in that though, especially when Mama Rose shows up to encourage Baby June's performance; so many musicals rely on nubile young women (even though most are stunning performers) to "sell" that youthfulness as an appeal to the male gaze who is both shaping and watching these musicals. Having a young child doing the same seems like a poke at that pervasive habit of presenting the young female form for public (male) consumption. 

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1.     In what ways does this scene look backwards to classical musicals and how does it look ahead to new disruptions that we now know will happen in the movie musical?  It looks backward to classical musicals by doing “a show within a show” like the backstage musicals from the 1930s.  I’m not sure how it looks ahead where musicals are concerned, although it’s definitely not as colorful as musicals from the ‘40s and ‘50s. 

2.     This is the introduction of Mama Rose in the film. Comment on Rosalind Russell’s entrance and performance especially as a traditionally trained stage and film actress.  With rare exception, Ms. Russell notably played very strong women with big personalities in her movies.  Many of her characters were loud and opinionated, though not in an obnoxious way.  Her charm always showed through.  It takes a talented actress to pull off roles like this, and Ms. Russell had the acting chops to do it.  Her skills are clearly on display in her entrance here.  You know exactly who she is in 30 seconds flat – loud, head-strong, fast-talking but also charming and real.

3.     Pay attention to the song “Let Me Entertain You” in this scene. Is there anything you notice in Sondheim’s lyrics that are sly, subversive, or edgy? You can also discuss the song’s performance and staging as disruptive (or not).  I hear innocent lyrics sung by a little girl.  I understand that Sondheim had sanitized the lyrics, but I wouldn’t have known that just from watching the clip. Baby June went on to become an actress (June Havoc).  We know Gyspy Rose Lee went into burlesque.  To me, June is just performing as a child performer who is trying to get a part. 

 

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1) They would be backwards by how the children are dancing and singing, Usually it would be one person would sing, then the next, dance, maybe together, but it seems more off beat to me in a way and how usually it's the adults would sing or dance, but there are two children up on stage kinda reminds me of Shirley Temple and how they dance and act.

2) Her entrance is to me spot on as how a trainer on the stage and dance in films or in any kind of musical there is either it be in the movies on Broadway. As soon as she walks in she takes charge telling what to do and then at the end of the scene she is with the children are dancing and singing.

 3) I would say the lyrics are playful and innocent, I mean they are singing about how they want to make you smile and how they are dancing ( Again giving me that Shirley Temple feel) and how its from the mind of a child so I don't really see any sly or edgey message in the song just an innocent song from the mind of a child. 

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On 6/25/2018 at 6:02 AM, mijiyoon38 said:

 

The song Baby June( Suzanne Cupito)? sings...well there isn't much of it "Let Me Entertain You"...no comment on this except to say she is at a cutie age & innocent ...Moma Rose adds in...'every little movement has a meaning all its own'...Moma Rose ...knows

Suzanne Cupito now goes by the name Morgan Brittany.  Yes, THAT Morgan Brittany!

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1. The beginning of the clip, as an audition scene, reminded me of the backstage musicals from the 1930s, like “42nd Street” and the “Broadway Melody” movies – except, in this case, it was children, and the audition was for a part in a show less glamorous and polished than one that would be going on the Broadway stage.

2. The way Ms. Russell plays the character, we know that she’s one who knows what she wants – and she’s going to get it. She commands the attention of the entire crew, and the audience. She’s also wearing clothing with leopard print, which reflects some of her boldness and ferocity – like a leopard’s – as a character.

3. The song is coming from a child at first, so it’s safe to assume that “let me entertain you” is referring simply to song and dance and anything else that may be part of the show. However, if the song was being sung from a different, more grown-up point of view, the lyrics would take on a new meaning, slightly suggestive.

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I would have to agree with others that the scene does look like the old "backstage" films we have seen in the past, such as 42nd St.

I haven't seen the movie, but I can tell from Mama Rose's entrance that her character is going to be controlling, overbearing, and direct the course of her daughter's life.

The song foreshadows the girl's future in burlesque.

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