Woodrow Wilson High School
Everything's coming up roses for the exceptional cast of "Gypsy" at Langley High School, whose superb commitment and execution made for an incredible production of one of the greatest accomplishments seen on Broadway.
The landmark musical, with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by Arthur Laurents, was based off the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, a famous burlesque dancer in the 1930s, whose story exposes the hardships of show business and the quest for fame and fortune. "Gypsy" explores the relationship between Rose, a fearless stage mother with an insatiable lust for stardom, and her two daughters, June and Louise. Although different from each other in their personalities, they are bound together, used by Rose to fulfill her own dreams of success. In a phenomenal turn not expected on a high school stage, Langley High School executed the stylistically, vocally, and technically demanding show with aplomb, infusing every aspect of the production with charm and creativity.
The cast of this production, led by the show-stopping Jamie Goodson as Rose, supported by the fantastic Jessica Peros as Louise and Mark Bosset as Herbie and rounded out by an unmatched ensemble, possessed no weak links. Dazzling dance skills could be found within the likes of Sydney Copp, as the talented yet audacious June, Cuinn Casey as Tulsa, an ambitious member of June's act who amazed the audience with his acrobatic skill, and the energetic Newsboys ensemble. Bosset's Herbie, a candy salesman turned agent, was an endearing counterpart to Goodson's ferocious Rose, and Peros rounded out the family with a captivating performance as Louise, evolving from an awkward adolescent to a mature star of the stage with remarkable versatility. In a league of her own, however, stood Jamie Goodson as Rose, commanding the stage as she superbly took on her complex character, executing every vocal, physical and emotional aspect of the challenging role with superb quality.
The emotional tapestry woven by "Gypsy" as a theater piece was elevated by the excellence from all facets of Langley High School's production, which included smooth transitions by the stage crew, good use of lighting techniques, and detailed set pieces. All creative aspects of the show enhanced the time period of the story, including imaginative costumes such as those worn by the burlesque dancers Tessi Tura (Elenitsa Sgouros), Mazeppa (Yoona Lee), and Electra (Anneka Noe). The use of projections to title every scene and give its location added depth to the subject of those scenes as well as detail on some occasions.
From energetic and well-executed ensemble work to nuanced and rich performances in some of Broadway's most iconic roles, the cast of Langley High School's "Gypsy" consistently exceeded expectations for a high school production. "May We Entertain You?", they asked in the opening number of a production that shone creatively and artistically--and they did just that!
Riverside High School
Anyone who has ever dreamed of seeing one's name in lights can confirm this is not an easy dream to have. It takes every ounce of strength and perseverance that one can give. Even with all the dedication and talent a person could possibly have, there is still no guarantee of success in a business as cutthroat as the entertainment industry. Perhaps, though, if one had a mother as indomitable as Momma Rose, success would become all but inevitable. In Langley High School's production of Gypsy, the world's most infamous stage mom drags her daughters, kicking and screaming, down the road to stardom.
Gypsy is loosely based on the memoirs detailing the lives of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist, and her overbearing mother, Rose. With music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents, it has been referred to by many as the greatest American musical of all time, and has numerous awards and revivals to its name. This prosperity comes for good reason--there is no doubt that Rose's story is an enthralling one. Her quest for notoriety for her daughters begins with a cross-country quest to bring their amateurish Vaudeville act into the spotlight, but as time passes, she is forced to deal with the slow, but inescapable demise of Vaudeville and the steady rise of Burlesque, as well as her daughters' need for independence.
As something of a Broadway pillar, Mamma Rose is, by any standards, a role that comes with some undeniably massive shoes to fill. However, Jamie Goodson not only manages to fill them, but they fit her to a T. Goodson has the domineering presence, vocal maturity, and acting chops to play a much older woman, and she does so convincingly and with poise. She executed comedic, emotionally charged, and subtler, heart-rending scenes with equal splendor, and managed to make the larger-than-life character feel genuine. Her ability to allow Rose's intense complexity to shine through made for a truly magnetic performance.
Another standout was Jessica Peros as Louise, who began as the timid, underappreciated background singer living in her sister's shadow. Her child-like excitement and sensitivity allowed her to create a heartfelt connection with the audience which she sustained throughout the show. Her second-act transition from shy Vaudeville wannabe to sultry, self-assured striptease artist was an impressive display of the dynamic nature of the character, and her performance was elevated by soaring vocals. Cuinn Casey also shone as the idealistic dancer Tulsa. His solo number, "All I Need is the Girl" combined his noteworthy vocal talent with first-rate dance skills, making for an arresting rendition.
The technical elements served to add another dimension to the already many-faceted production. The set was deliberate and effective, lending itself to efficient, seamless scene changes and augmenting the onstage action while never being so gaudy as to remove attention from the actors. The publicity team (Caroline Burnham, Anneta Noe, Kaitlyn O'Conor) is also worthy of commendation. Using many hands-on tactics in the school and community, such as promotional buttons and invitations, Snapchat geofilters, and head cutout boards for students to pose in, they managed to fill nearly every seat in the auditorium.
The talented cast and crew encapsulated the ups and downs of show business with effortless humor and nuanced sentimentality, weaving an unequivocally captivating interpretation of the memoirs of a stripteaser. For Langley High School's production of Gypsy, everything's coming up roses.