This March, ASPI will proudly present Gypsy: A Musical Fable! Considered by many as the greatest American musical, Gypsy is based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, an American burlesque entertainer and striptease artist. Gypsy and her sister made their start in vaudeville, but after her sister’s elopement Gypsy pursued burlesque. Gypsy was known for the elegance and wit she brought to her act. The story goes that her act reached new heights when one of her gown’s shoulder straps gave out and the dress fell down. She was encouraged by the audience’s reactions and decided to make it part of her act. Her style was considered subtle in comparison to other burlesque acts.
In Gypsy: A Musical Fable, audiences will see entertainer Gypsy transition from the vaudeville circuit and blossom into a burlesque star. Like the song “You Gotta Get a Gimmick”, Gypsy has to discover her own “gimmick”, what it will take to set her apart and be a successful strip tease artist.
🎶“So get yourself a gimmick and you, too,
Can be a star!”🎶
Gypsy was one of the biggest stars of Minsky’s Burlesque in New York City and she performed with their company for four years. In a world of prohibition and the enforcement of moral convictions, for Minsky to keep their burlesque license, shows needed to be kept clean enough to prevent being raided by the police but risque enough to draw in audiences. Minsky’s was also a competing force with the vaudeville circuit.
Through the life of Gypsy, audiences will see the fading of vaudeville and the rise of burlesque. Vaudeville began in 19th century France and was popular in the United States in the 1880s until the 1930s. It was a form of variety entertainment where multiple separate acts would come together on one playbill. The show could include comedians, clowns, celebrities, magicians, dancers, musicians, ventriloquists, and so much more!
Once considered the heart of American show business, vaudeville was joined in the entertainment industry by burlesque. In 1868 a British burlesque troupe visited New York, Lydia Thompson and the “British Blondes”. The troupe was such a success, the American burlesque emerged. Shows “consisted of three parts: first, songs and ribald comic sketches by low comedians; second, assorted olios and male acts, such as acrobats, magicians and solo singers; and third, chorus numbers and sometimes a burlesque in the English style on politics or a current play. The entertainment was usually concluded by an exotic dancer or a wrestling or boxing match.”
Burlesques were hosted in clubs, cabarets, music halls, and theaters, and its height of popularity in the United States ran from the 1860s and into the 1940s. (Perhaps audiences will recall the performance of burlesque in APSI’s 2018 production of Cabaret!)
Reviving the art of burlesque is notable performer Dita Von Teese. Ms. Von Teese recently made a cameo appearance as the Fairy Goddess in Taylor Swift’s music video for “Bejeweled”, which features Von Teese’s signature martini glass act. Her other signature acts include: The Opium Den, Le Bain Noir, and The Champagne Glass. Her acts are noted for their elaborate dance shows with many characters and props, from a carousel horse to a gigantic powder compact. Von Teese’s fan dance features the world’s largest feather fans!
🎵Let us entertain you, let us make you smile!🎵 Gypsy: A Musical Fable will be on the ASPI stage March 16-18 & 23-25 at 7pm and March 19 & 26 at 1pm. Buy your tickets now! It’s sure to be a real good time! 🎶 Tickets can be purchased at abramsspotlightproductions.com. Please call the Box Office at (920) 826-5852 with any questions.