Gypsy gets gimmicky

Kinsmen Club of Kingston puts on mediocre show of Broadway classic

Gypsy’s largely female cast stole the show on Wednesday night with strong performances from Amie Bello and Emily Fennell, but Daniel Carp as Tulsa shined as a male lead as well.
Gypsy’s largely female cast stole the show on Wednesday night with strong performances from Amie Bello and Emily Fennell, but Daniel Carp as Tulsa shined as a male lead as well.
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Clothes aren’t the only thing lacking in the Burlesque-centered musical Gypsy.

Continuity between scenes and the characters was also missing from the Kinsmen Club of Kingston’s production at the Grand on Wednesday night.

The seminal Broadway classic is set in the 1920s, deep in the glamorous world of show business. It depicts the tensions of a showbiz life, as Momma Rose, the epitome of stage moms, who forces her daughters through the Vaudeville variety circuit.

With its demise, the stage mom gets her daughters into Burlesque entertainment, living out her own dreams vicariously through their successes.

As the house lights reluctantly dim, the overture attempts to suggest the anticipated comedic tone of the show with its upbeat Broadway air and a cartoonish quality. The use of a multimedia projection screen with sepia-toned photographs gives the audience the feeling they are in the right time period.

The young talent showcased was impressive, an observation echoed by the mumbling of the audience. Maeve Tomalty delivered an excellent performance in Baby June’s rendition of the show’s carrying number, “Let Me Entertain You,” unfortunately outshining the supporting adults in the opening of the play.

But the attempt at humour in the opening of the show was overdone, often creating the opposite effect of confusion for the audience.

The play’s opening carries the air of amateur community theatre, from poor microphone quality to out of sync choreography, a few minor line slip-ups and a quirky, yet juvenile cut-out car.

But as the play picks up and settles into the core of its story, the cast also seemed to settle into their element. While the smaller child actors still shone during the musical, the adult actors held their own as well.

Specifically, the cast was led by Amie Bello and Emily Fennell playing the lead roles of Momma Rose and Louise respectively. The two women proved that the show isn’t lacking in vocal talent.

In a production carried mainly by women, Daniel Carp as Tulsa gave a strong male performance in his number “All I Need Is The Girl,” displaying both vocal chops and fancy footwork. Other than Carp, the males in the cast were lacking in staying power and didn’t remain in my memory for long after the show.

In a show about Burlesque, any and all expected sensuality was missing. Instead, numbers like “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” consisted of a purposefully funny, self-deprecating and awkward strip tease that should have been more enthralling than it was.

Ironically, the sexiest performance was Bello’s rendition of “Rose’s Turn,” the ultimate ballad about ambition.

Though the musical numbers are catchy and enjoyable, they fall just short of being memorable. However, as the themed number “Let Me Entertain You” suggests, their purpose is just that — to entertain.

Kinsmen Club of Kingston presents Gypsy is playing at the Grand Theatre until Nov. 17. See grandtheatre.ca for ticket details.

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