Based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, a famous burlesque
stripper, Gypsy tells the story of Rose, an overbearing
stage mother who is determined to break into the big time by
pushing the vaudeville career of her younger daughter June. However,
unwilling to tolerate her mother's manipulations, June elopes
with a dancer. Rose then turns all of her attention on her older
and less talented daughter Louise. Eventually Rose's dreams come
to fruition when she successfully transforms Louise into a famous
burlesque stripper known as Gypsy Rose Lee. No sooner has she
succeeded, however, than Rose suffers a mental breakdown, realizing
that she is no longer needed in her daughter's career.
Directed by the legendary Jerome Robbins, the original production
featured Ethel Merman who gave the performance of a lifetime
as Rose. It was the last stage role Miss Merman would create,
and many of the songs from the show ("Some People"
and "Everything's Coming Up Roses") have come to be
counted among her biggest hits.
Gypsy opened at the Broadway Theatre on May 21, 1959
and closed on March 25, 1961 after 702 performances. It was made
into a motion picture starring Natalie Wood and Rosalind Russell
in 1963 and a TV movie starring Bette Midler in 1993. A Broadway
revival was staged in 1974 with Angela Lansbury and again in
1989 with Tyne Daley.