The opening weekend for “Gypsy” at The Columbian Theater in Wamego was June 9-11.
I want to point out that I saw the production twice—once on June 10 and once on June 11. But when I walked into The Columbian Theater for the first time on June 10, I did not know what to expect. I knew nothing about the production. I knew nothing about those in said production. I had never attended this theater. But I was accompanied by two friends and a fellow staff writer from the Collegian.
I was immediately drawn into the production as soon as the live orchestra began performing. I want to give a quick shoutout to the orchestra. They were incredible. It was six individuals playing multiple instruments. But a special shoutout goes to Christy McKissick, who played the oboe, clarinet and saxophone interchangeably throughout the production. Often, McKissick would have to switch instruments mid-song. I was two rows back from the orchestra, and the orchestra was mesmerizing to not only listen to, but also watch.
This brings me to the review of the actual show. Some members of the production said after the show on June 10 that this particular show was a disaster. But as an audience member, it was actually community theater at its finest.
The lights were not raised for the opening scene? Those onstage continued to act and perform their lines as rehearsed. The microphones were not cued correctly? The actors and actresses just sang out louder. Spotlights did not hit their marks or were malfunctioning? The show continued without a spotlight. Shoes got caught in costumes during outfit changes? The performers just took a few extra moments to come onto the stage.
These things happen. It is that simple. But these moments did not take away from the beauty or creativity of the show. I thoroughly enjoyed that the production was not perfect. It reflected that no one is perfect nor is any production ever. Those affiliated with the show on June 10 handled these “mishaps” like true professionals. Those a part of this production were much too hard on themselves for what happened on that particular night. It was all handled professionally, and the show still went on.
I am grateful I had the opportunity to see the show again June 11 nonetheless. It was riveting to see the show in its more fluid form with all appropriate light, sound and spotlight cues. But it further iterated to me how professional this cast was in handling those misfortunes the previous night.
There were clear standouts for me in this production. Linda Haynes Uthoff, who performed as Rose, dazzled in this role in ways I could not image others living up to. With a strong voice and a general command of the stage, she brought so much passion to this character. She was riveting to watch and an absolute joy to listen to.
Miranda Klugesherz, who performed as Louise, later known as Gypsy Rose Lee, captivated me as an audience member. She was consistently in character while onstage. Even when she was not the focal point of the scene, her facial expressions were right where they needed to be. Her voice, especially during solos, was angelic. Klugesherz challenged herself with this role and persevered through like the true champion she is.
I also wanted to give a shoutout to Gabby Van Sickle, who performed as June. While this character left at the end of the first act, Van Sickle shined in the role of the daughter who was forced into a life onstage that was created through her mother living vicariously through her daughter’s talent. The voice and passion Van Sickle brought to the stage as a young actress was hard to forget.
Marilee Hamic, who performed as Baby June, and Sarah McKay Tucker, who performed as Baby Louise, also deserve their own recognition. Their portrayal of these young characters allowed the fluidity of age to transform effortlessly before the audience’s eyes.
For those who have seen a version of Gypsy before or know absolutely nothing about it, I would highly recommend anyone and everyone go see this play at The Columbian Theater. Tickets are $15 for students and children and $20 for adults. The remaining dates for the show are June 16, 17, 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m. and June 18 and 25 at 2 p.m.
Jakki Forester is a graduate student in communication studies. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to [email protected]