NOTE: Wine Country Theatre’s cast member illness postpones Gypsy. The performance will be rescheduled.
Wine Country Theatre’s presents it’s latest production, the musical Gypsy, this month at the Park Ballroom in Paso Robles and promises to be entertaining for all ages.
“It’s considered one of the greatest American musicals of all time because of the story,” Wine Country Theatre founder Cynthia Anthony said. “It’s a fun story, but it has a lot of gravitas. Gypsy is a crowd-pleaser.”
Gypsy is based on the memoirs of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and focuses on her stage mom, Mama Rose. Her daughter, Louise, stepped to the spotlight and became one of the most famed burlesque dancers in history.
“[Mama Rose] only has her eyes on fame — just trying to make it,” Anthony said. “She’s so domineering that there first daughter, June, runs off and she focuses on making Louise a star. They accidentally book a show at a house of burlesque and Anthony said “there’s no choice, but for Louise to go on. [From that] she becomes Gypsy Rose Lee and becomes so famous.”
Though the musical is based on Gypsy Rose Lee’s memoirs, it is about Mama Rose and is appropriate for children.
“It’s not an inappropriate play,” Anthony said. “It’s not about stripping. It’s family-friendly. It’s about what are the bonds that make a family.”
The cast is also multigenerational with young children, young adults and mature adults.
“I think it’s important for us to do plays with casts that are multigenerational,” Anthony said. “We’re not a children’s theater, but to do plays and musicals that can appeal to all generations is important to us.”
The musical includes songs such as “Let Me Entertain You,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” and “You Gotta Have a Gimmick.” Many of the songs, Anthony said, are familiar to audiences and adds to the experience.
There are about two dozen people in the cast for Gypsy. Sholly Von Stein will play the role of Mama Rose, San Luis Obispo County Superintendent of Schools James Brescia will play Herby, Mama Rose’s boyfriend; and Sarah Raimes will play Gypsy Rose Lee. Raimes is a professionally-trained actress, who has appeared at the Santa Barbara Opera and in Oliver at the San Luis Obispo Repertory Theater. Raimes is new to Wine Country Theater. Brescia played the innkeeper in Fiddler on the Roof last year with the nonprofit theater company.
“That’s how we grow — finding new talent,” Anthony said.
The production will be directed by Zach Johnson, who is directing with Wine Country Theatre for the first time.
“But he’s a well-known director in our county and choreographer and performer,” Anthony said, though she added that he won’t be performing in Gypsy. “It’s exciting to include him in the production.”
Local John Laird is the musical director for Gypsy. Laird has been a professional singer/musician for more than 20 years. Since moving to the Central Coast in 1996, he has become involved in community theater in the area. For Wine Country Theatre, he has served as musical director for shows including “Guys and Dolls,” “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and “Oklahoma,” in addition to playing keyboards for several productions.
“We’re thrilled to have him working with us in this capacity,” Anthony said.
“I personally love the music — it’s very entertaining,” Anthony said. “I love that it includes children, young people and mature adults. I’m excited that in our third year now, we’re feeling more confident. I feel confident that people coming to the show will enjoy it.”
Anthony encourages people interested in attending the show not to wait until closing night to purchase their tickets, because she is certain it will sell out. Instead, she encourages people to support the theater and production by coming to earlier performances.
As a nonprofit theater, it relies on both ticket sales and donations. Anthony said that ticket sales cover about two-thirds of the cost of the production.
Tickets are $15 for students and $25 for general admission. Wine, soft drinks, cheese, desserts and snacks will be available for purchase and consumption during the performance.
“I’m humbled by all the people who have supported our community theater in so many ways,” Anthony said, adding that the board of directors are “unrecognized heroes” for all that they do.
The next step for the 3-year-old company is being able to sustain an entire season of shows, rather than getting by show by show. She said they are also on the lookout for either a storefront or space to call home for the theater company.
For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.winecountrytheatre.com.