Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Troupe Puts on Show of Shows

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Troupe Puts on Show of Shows

Article excerpt

Byline: Patti Levine-Brown, County Line correspondent

Entertainment with a capital "E" is the best way to describe Orange Park Community Theatre's latest production, Gypsy.

The popular musical is a perfect close to the 33rd season of an astounding year of success for the local theater. Casting a show that first opened on Broadway in 1959 starring Ethel Merman and played 451 performances might be a bit much for some theater troupes, but as usual OPCT took on the challenge and does a superb job.

While OPTC will run only 11 more performances, it would be a mistake to miss this production, brilliantly directed by Bob Wilson and Barbara Wells. Everyone who has the chance should hear the magnificent voice of Gloria Bennett, who plays Rose.

Set during the vaudeville era, the story is less about Gypsy Rose Lee, the woman who became America's queen of striptease, than her mother, Rose, an unrelenting stage mother who traveled the country with her two daughters, June and Louise.

Rose, her daughters and their manager, Herbie, go from theater to theater with an act that focuses on young June, who Rose is convinced will become a star. After years of being on the road, June and Louise wish their mother would settle down and marry Herbie, but Rose continues to pursue dreams of stardom for her girls.

It is not until June leaves the act for love and marriage that a shy Louise, who would become Gypsy Rose Lee, is forced to take center stage at a burlesque house and the rest of the story is, as they say, history.

Locally, the OPCT cast is large and talented. In fact, there is so much talent on the stage at one time, it is difficult to only name a few. Everyone in this production shines, especially Miranda Miller as baby June, Gabrielle Verderese as baby Louise, Kelli Clevenger as the older Louise (Gypsy Rose Lee), and Michelle Nugent as the older June.

Both Clevenger, who doubles as the choreographer for the play and Nugent, who doubles as the music director, deserve accolades for their remarkable achievements. …

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