Jump to content

 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Charlie's Girl

Get yourself a gimmick and you too can be a star

Recommended Posts

I'm so glad to see this number started as a topic! I've had questions about this particular number in the film for years.

Has anyone seen the stage version of GYPSY? If so, how were the singers? I know this number is about ladies with marginal performing talents, and perhaps that's why the singing, too, is poor. You can, however, belt a song sarcastically and still sing well. I know Rosalind Russell didn't have much of a singing range, but she still sang effectively. The ladies in this scene make me wish they had been dubbed!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I enjoyed the number - bad singing or not. Its always been one of my favorite bits in the movie.  Faith Dane, who played Mazeppa is still around, per IMDB.  She is 94.  

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love this part of Gypsy.  Yes, the singing is bad, but I've always thought that it was supposed to be bad.  The song features three less than classy strippers with obvious gimmicks--probably to distract from their actual lack of talent.  Gypsy however, is actually very pretty and has a decent voice, she doesn't need a shtick. I've always loved the Christmas tree girl. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

I love this part of Gypsy.  Yes, the singing is bad, but I've always thought that it was supposed to be bad.  The song features three less than classy strippers with obvious gimmicks--probably to distract from their actual lack of talent.  Gypsy however, is actually very pretty and has a decent voice, she doesn't need a shtick. I've always loved the Christmas tree girl. 

Totally agree speedracer5 (BTW love your name). The whole point of the performance is that these women are utterly talentless other than having nice bodies and the ability and nerve to take their clothes off in front of appreciative men. If they sang well or could really dance why would they be strippers? And even as strippers they need to stand apart from their peers hence the need for a gimmick. You can’t look at this scene as a polished song and dance number bc it isn’t intended to be. It moves along the story by introducing Gypsy to the backstage realities of stripping. I find the scene hilarious and very well done.

I would bet that these women are in reality most likely decent singers and dancers bc if not they couldn’t possibly be worse singers or dancers than they appear in this scene. Most ppl can be taught to have a pleasant enough singing voice if they practice. Few ppl truly have a tin-ear. Have you ever tried to be a worse singer than you are? If you have you probably found yourself sounding much like the extremes of bad singing as these ladies. I say Brava to these performers!

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really enjoyed all of the performances in Gypsy, Natalie is so beautiful and the costumes are great.  I did some outside reading and it seems that Baby June and Gypsy Rose  Lee had different accounts of their childhood. A lot of people don't know that Baby June went on the be the actress June Haver (pictured below):

 

jh.jpg.1a51dcb89ff231b562a58c650f9340ad.jpg 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, starryeyzze said:

I really enjoyed all of the performances in Gypsy, Natalie is so beautiful and the costumes are great.  I did some outside reading and it seems that Baby June and Gypsy Rose  Lee had different accounts of their childhood. A lot of people don't know that Baby June went on the be the actress June Haver (pictured below):

 

jh.jpg.1a51dcb89ff231b562a58c650f9340ad.jpg 

I believe Baby June actually went on to become actress June Havoc. 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 3
  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, CynthiaV said:

Totally agree speedracer5 (BTW love your name). The whole point of the performance is that these women are utterly talentless other than having nice bodies and the ability and nerve to take their clothes off in front of appreciative men. If they sang well or could really dance why would they be strippers? And even as strippers they need to stand apart from their peers hence the need for a gimmick. You can’t look at this scene as a polished song and dance number bc it isn’t intended to be. It moves along the story by introducing Gypsy to the backstage realities of stripping. I find the scene hilarious and very well done.

I would bet that these women are in reality most likely decent singers and dancers bc if not they couldn’t possibly be worse singers or dancers than they appear in this scene. Most ppl can be taught to have a pleasant enough singing voice if they practice. Few ppl truly have a tin-ear. Have you ever tried to be a worse singer than you are? If you have you probably found yourself sounding much like the extremes of bad singing as these ladies. I say Brava to these performers!

I am one of those with a tin ear.  I have a horrible singing voice, but yet I do love to sing, especially to my beloved musicals. The trick is to be alone and not offend anyone.  :)  It is one of my biggest regrets that I was not gifted with singing, dancing or acting talent. However, I love and will always love show business.  

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, speedracer5 said:

I love this part of Gypsy.  Yes, the singing is bad, but I've always thought that it was supposed to be bad.  The song features three less than classy strippers with obvious gimmicks--probably to distract from their actual lack of talent.  Gypsy however, is actually very pretty and has a decent voice, she doesn't need a shtick. I've always loved the Christmas tree girl. 

That's why I was curious if anyone has seen a stage version. I wondered if the singing was intended to be that way, or was it just the film ladies who weren't very good singers. I do love the scene, though.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the bad singing was deliberate. It is hard for trained performers to act awkward or amateurish so give these ladies a hand! I do know that Maria Karnilova who played the original Tessie Tura on Broadway also received a Tony for Fiddler on the Roof. I saw her in Jerome Robbins Ballets USA and she was great. So I suspect that the film performers were also talented women so good that they could convince some viewers that they were third-rate.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The singing is intentional.  It's done the same way on the cast album. The joke is they claim their gimmicks make them different from each other but they do basically the same routine.    

It's also a contrast between burlesque and vaudeville.  The singing is coarse and untrained, in comparison to the Dainty June numbers with their more elaborate choreography.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really like this number, but the film version of Gypsy makes it pointless because the whole point of this number is to set up that Louise needs to find a defining trait to make her act unique. In the Broadway version, her gimmick isn't just that she never gets naked; it's also that she's a comic. Instead of feeding bum lines off comedians like she initially did, she becomes the one who provides the laughs. The film version completely omits that, which kind of leaves you wondering how she got so big. 

I think the 1962 version of Gypsy's a great film despite niggling things like that (and despite the rough singing from everyone involved, not just the intentionally bad strippers). However, I much prefer the 1993 TV version with Bette Midler. Yeah, the direction in that one's stagey, but the performances are great, especially Midler's, and the singing is strong across the board. Here's Midler's version of "Rose's Turn" from that version:

 

 

 

 

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I believe Baby June actually went on to become actress June Havoc. 

You're right, speedracer5. June Havoc (nee: Hovick) went on to become a fairly well-known actress, appearing in such movies as "Gentlemen's Agreement" w/Gregory Peck as his secretary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This number is one of the best examples of a comic number that gives a shot in the arm to the middle of the second act.  Above all, this number must be comic.  This is true of the film as well as every stage performance I have seen.  Fine vocalism would be out of place.  It is interesting to note that the real Gypsy Rose Lee was noted for being a lady, doing strip teases that were more tease than strip, and for the comedy in her acts.  (I am too young to have seen her perform, I know only what I have read about her.)  Prior to this number in the film, burlesque has been depicted as something of a villain pushing out the beloved vaudeville.  This number changes direction and shows us burlesque as a highly entertaining comic number.  Miss Mazeppa always runs away with the number.  I remember a particularly funny moment at the end of Mazeppa's solo.

A word or two about Maria Karnilova, who originated the role of Tessie Tura on Broadway but did not appear in the film.  She was a popular character actor on Broadway.  In addition to Tessie Tura, she won a Tony for her portrayal of Golde in Fiddler on the Roof and was nominated for another Tony for playing the role in Zorba that won Lila Kedrova an Oscar.  It might be better to think of her as a character actress and not a leading lady.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, TheMadKiwi said:

I really like this number, but the film version of Gypsy makes it pointless because the whole point of this number is to set up that Louise needs to find a defining trait to make her act unique. In the Broadway version, her gimmick isn't just that she never gets naked; it's also that she's a comic. Instead of feeding bum lines off comedians like she initially did, she becomes the one who provides the laughs. The film version completely omits that, which kind of leaves you wondering how she got so big. 

I think the 1962 version of Gypsy's a great film despite niggling things like that (and despite the rough singing from everyone involved, not just the intentionally bad strippers). However, I much prefer the 1993 TV version with Bette Midler. Yeah, the direction in that one's stagey, but the performances are great, especially Midler's, and the singing is strong across the board. Here's Midler's version of "Rose's Turn" from that version:

 

The Divine Miss M.  Brilliant!

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Jim K said:

This number is one of the best examples of a comic number that gives a shot in the arm to the middle of the second act.  Above all, this number must be comic.  This is true of the film as well as every stage performance I have seen. 

What would be other examples of this?  "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat" (Guys and Dolls) , "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" (My Fair Lady) , "Life Upon the Wicked Stage" (Showboat) ,  "All Er Nuthin'" (?) (Oklahoma)  "What do the Simple Folk Do?" or "Fie on Goodness" (?) (Camelot), "The Other Generation" (Flower Drum Song), "Kids" (Bye Bye Birdie), "Gee Officer Krupke" (West Side Story) "Shipoopi" (Music Man)    

Would these usually be group novelty numbers, or be done by the secondary sidekick comic couple or main comic character?

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Pastiche said:

What would be other examples of this?  "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat" (Guys and Dolls) , "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" (My Fair Lady) , "Life Upon the Wicked Stage" (Showboat) ,  "All Er Nuthin'" (?) (Oklahoma)  "What do the Simple Folk Do?" or "Fie on Goodness" (?) (Camelot), "The Other Generation" (Flower Drum Song), "Kids" (Bye Bye Birdie), "Gee Officer Krupke" (West Side Story)    

Would these usually be group novelty numbers, or be done by the secondary sidekick comic couple or main comic character?

In addition to all that you mentioned, a few others come immediately to mind:  "Sing for Your Supper" (Boys from Syracuse), "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" (Annie Get Your Gun), "Do You Love Me (Fiddler on the Roof) "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" (Kiss Me Kate).  Even the Swan Lake ballet in Funny Girl (which replaced Rat-a-tat-tat" from the Broadway play).  I might suggest "Sue Me" for Guys and Dolls, but "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat works well too.  These are comic numbers, but the shot-in-the arm can also be a lively dance like "Hello, Dolly!" or "That's How Young I Feel (the play Mame, not used in the film).  I don't know that there is a rule as to who or how many people perform the number.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Charlie's Girl said:

Still true.  Some things never change. 

 

And I'm old enough to remember Gypsy Rose Lee's talk show.  

 

I don't remember that but one of our cable channels airs old game shows from the 50s and 60s and I caught an episode of What's My Line where she was the mystery guest.  Her part starts around 16:45 on the video.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, sagebrush said:

Has anyone seen the stage version of GYPSY? If so, how were the singers? I know this number is about ladies with marginal performing talents, and perhaps that's why the singing, too, is poor. You can, however, belt a song sarcastically and still sing well. I know Rosalind Russell didn't have much of a singing range, but she still sang effectively. The ladies in this scene make me wish they had been dubbed!

Tessie, Mazeppa, and Electra are always poor singers in every version of the show. I'd also have to disagree with you on Rosalind Russell. Her singing was dubbed by Lisa Kirk but it still had to sound like an extension of her speaking voice and I don't find it to be pleasant to listen to. I much prefer Imelda Staunton and Bernadette Peters in the role. Imelda's performance was even professionally recorded and available to rent on various streaming services. I highly recommend watching it, it's my favorite overall version of the show.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, Joshua Goodstein said:

Tessie, Mazeppa, and Electra are always poor singers in every version of the show. I'd also have to disagree with you on Rosalind Russell. Her singing was dubbed by Lisa Kirk but it still had to sound like an extension of her speaking voice and I don't find it to be pleasant to listen to. I much prefer Imelda Staunton and Bernadette Peters in the role. Imelda's performance was even professionally recorded and available to rent on various streaming services. I highly recommend watching it, it's my favorite overall version of the show.

The first time I heard Rosalind Russell's voice was on the soundtrack of WONDERFUL TOWN, and her singing made me giggle because her voice was so masculine. Then, when I saw GYPSY, I knew right away that couldn't be the same singer. I thought they did a good job of matching her speaking voice to Kirk's singing voice, though.

It's good to know now that the strippers are always poor singers. I had wondered about that for years ( I guess I could have just looked up a show performance on YouTube :D )

I love Bernadette Peters as Mama Rose, too ( from the clips I've seen.) I've read that so many folks think she was miscast, but I can't see her as being bad in anything!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bernadette Peters isn't a bad Mama Rose, but I felt she was miscast because she wasn't bold and brassy enough. She very much downplayed the part when this is a role that demands the scenery to be chewed. It's funny because the real Rose was a very small, petite woman like Peters, but most actresses cast as her tend to be big and stocky. Not that small actresses can't be loud and brash, of course, but I guess visually, larger ones make more of an impression on stage. 

My favorite Rose is Bette Midler, but if we're just talking stage ones, my favorite is Angela Lansbury. Stephen Sondheim has gone on record as saying she's the only actress he's seen who's performed "Rose's Turn" the way he intended - like a woman having a nervous breakdown. Patti LuPone and Imelda Staunton have since done it that way, too, and both are brilliant, but there's something about Lansbury's portrayal that feels like the perfect mix of charming, scary, bold, and vulnerable. Here's some 16mm footage of her in the 1974 Broadway revival:

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Jim K said:

These are comic numbers, but the shot-in-the arm can also be a lively dance like "Hello, Dolly!" or "That's How Young I Feel (the play Mame, not used in the film).  I don't know that there is a rule as to who or how many people perform the number.

Thanks for the info!  I just watched the theater screening of West Side Story.  "Krupke" was shoved into the first act, and the second act was mostly the rumble and aftermath, so there weren't any comic numbers.  But "Cool" might qualify because it's an energetic dance number.   

I know some of the components of musicals, like the "I want" song that introduces the main character, and the 11 o'clock number.  Can you recommend a book or article that describes a musical's structure? Of course there are variations, but I'm curious about the standard types of elements. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Pastiche said:

Thanks for the info!  I just watched the theater screening of West Side Story.  "Krupke" was shoved into the first act, and the second act was mostly the rumble and aftermath, so there weren't any comic numbers.  But "Cool" might qualify because it's an energetic dance number.   

I know some of the components of musicals, like the "I want" song that introduces the main character, and the 11 o'clock number.  Can you recommend a book or article that describes a musical's structure? Of course there are variations, but I'm curious about the standard types of elements. 

We saw the screening of West Side Story tonight too, and I noticed that “Gee Officer Krupke” had been moved to the first act too.  And “Cool” moved to the second act.  I wish I could recommend a book, but I don’t know of one. The song types I know of are the opening song and the opening to the second act, both intended to get the audience to settle into the show, the ballad (supposedly an invention of Jerome Kern’s), the eleven o’clock number (a later use of the ballad), the list song (where the lyrics are a list of something or another, like “People Will Say We’re in Love”, “You’re the Top”, “Guys and Dolls”, “Mame” and a ton of others).  And there is usually a song or dance that is an energy burst in the second act. I am thinking mostly of a Broadway show that usually has a second act.  Sine most movie musicals are presented in the equivalent of one act, they might be structured a little differently. 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, TheMadKiwi said:

Bernadette Peters isn't a bad Mama Rose, but I felt she was miscast because she wasn't bold and brassy enough. She very much downplayed the part when this is a role that demands the scenery to be chewed. It's funny because the real Rose was a very small, petite woman like Peters, but most actresses cast as her tend to be big and stocky. Not that small actresses can't be loud and brash, of course, but I guess visually, larger ones make more of an impression on stage. 

My favorite Rose is Bette Midler, but if we're just talking stage ones, my favorite is Angela Lansbury. Stephen Sondheim has gone on record as saying she's the only actress he's seen who's performed "Rose's Turn" the way he intended - like a woman having a nervous breakdown. Patti LuPone and Imelda Staunton have since done it that way, too, and both are brilliant, but there's something about Lansbury's portrayal that feels like the perfect mix of charming, scary, bold, and vulnerable.

I love Bernadette's Rose specifically because she doesn't chew the scenery, it makes Rose feel more like a real, complex person as opposed to a Saturday morning cartoon villain which is what I felt from Patti LuPone and especially Bette Midler which is why I don't particularly care for their interpretations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

© 2020 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...